Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp. and Bupa Insurance Ltd. may bid for Abraaj Capital Ltd.’s half of Turkish health insurer Acibadem Saglik & Hayat Sigorta AS, according to three people familiar with the sale.

Abraaj, the Middle East’s biggest buyout firm, hired Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBI), to manage the deal, said the people, who declined to be identified because the process is confidential. Potential suitors will be invited to place their bids soon, the people said.

Acibadem is valued at about $300 million, according to one of the people. The company increased domestic health-insurance premiums by 36 percent to 230.3 million liras ($128 million) last year, for a market share of 10 percent, according to the Insurance Association of Turkey. That market grew 12 percent last year, buoyed by the youngest population in Europe and an economic expansion of 8.5 percent in 2011 and expected growth of 2.5 percent in 2012.

Cynthia Michener, a spokeswoman for Aetna, declined to comment on interest in Acibadem. Cigna spokesman Matthew Asensio said the company doesn’t comment on “market speculation.” Bupa spokeswoman Jo Hudson declined to comment as did Andrea Pelinka- Kinz, a Raiffeisen spokeswoman. Selcuk Yorgancioglu, head of Abraaj’s Turkey office and deputy chairman of Acibadem, didn’t reply to phone calls seeking comment.

Walnut holding

Abraaj owns the stake through its Walnut Holding unit, according to Acibadem’s website, while Mehmet Ali Aydinlar, a Turkish businessman, owns the other half.

Turkey’s non-life insurance market, where premiums under management grew 18 percent to 17.1 billion liras in 2012, has attracted several international insurers in recent years, including AXA SA, Zurich Insurance Group AG, Cigna and Metlife Inc. Acibadem’s share of the domestic non-life market rose to 1.4 percent in 2012 from 1.2 percent in 2011, according to the Insurance Association.

Abraaj and the Aydinlar family sold a 75 percent stake in Istanbul-based hospital chain Acibadem Saglik Hizmetleri & Ticaret AS in 2011 to a unit of the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, at a market value of $1.68 billion. Abraaj exited the investment while the Aydinlars retain 25 percent.

Cigna, based in Bloomfield, Connecticut, bought 51 percent of Finans Emeklilik, the Turkish pension fund and life-insurer unit of Finansbank AS, for 85 million euros ($110 million) in July.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ercan Ersoy in Istanbul at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at

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