An artistic rendition of VGH’s plans to upgrade St Luke’s Hospital
Vitals Global Healthcare Malta, the company which won a multimillion bid for the privatisation of the St Luke’s, Gozo and Karin Grech hospitals two years ago, is being sold to Steward Medical Group, a major US company, Lovin Malta is informed.
Separate sources have confirmed with this website that takeover negotiations for the Maltese branch of VGH are at a “very advanced” stage. Other sources informed us that the government had actively helped VGH Malta find its new owner and that the US embassy is conducting a due diligence report on VGH Malta on behalf of its owners-to-be.
The deal is also expected to see Pakistani-Canadian businessman Ram Tumuluri, one of the key faces of the controversial project, leave VGH Malta.
One of VGH Malta’s minority shareholders had recently filed a warrant of prohibitory injunction to stop the takeover from happening, but he dropped his case after the company provided him with more reassurances.
It was only in September 2015 that the government granted VGH a 30-year concession agreement to operate the Gozo, St Luke’s and Karen Grech hospitals in a public-private partnership. The deal saw VGH agree to invest some €220 million to upgrade the three old hospitals and the government pay the company some €70 million a year (€30 billion over the 30 year period) to provide hospital beds to the state.
If both parties kept up their side of their bargain, VGH could be expected to start raking in profits from the Maltese taxpayer in their fourth year of operation over and above any profits from fee-paying medical tourists.
Moreover, the contract – which was leaked to the Times of Malta – shows the government agreed to spare VGH from digging into their own pockets to run aspects of their project.
The government agreed to cover the salaries of the hospital employees, pay VGH €1.2 million a year (€36 million over 30 years) for their medical school in Gozo, pay them €1 million a year (€30 million over 30 years) for their air ambulance service, and pay them unspecified millions for medicinal, surgical and pharmaceutical services.
VGH director Ram Tumuluri
VGH is registered in the British Virgin Islands and its owner is listed as Mark Pawley, the founding partner of Oxley Capital – a Singaporean private investment firm. Its director is Ram Tumuluri, a Pakistani-born Canadian businessman.
In October, the Times of Malta revealed that VGH’s chief executive Armin Ernst and operations chief Eric Buehrens had suddenly resigned from their roles.
Medical sources told the newspaper that infrastructural upgrades to the three hospitals have so far been negligible, considering VGH’s commitment to invest €220 million within its first few years. A VGH spokesperson admitted that infrastructural works at the Gozo hospital have been slow so far, but said the company is building a new ward at Karin Grech Hospital, refurbishing the old medical school and investing some €800,000 into a car park at St Luke’s.