There’s always that one kid on the playground waiting to be picked. The one kid who’s actually pretty good at most things, just not popular by association.

That one kid in healthcare today is the largest (by number of labs) Indian diagnostics chain, Super Religare or SRL diagnostics. It’s getting ready for sale.

But it hasn’t been able to find value in the public market.

SRL was founded in 1995 as a faction of Ranbaxy Laboratories—founded in 1961 by two brothers, Ranbir Singh and Gurbax. Ranbaxy was bought by their cousin, then passed down over two generations until 2008, when the family found an exit in a deal valued at $4.6 billion. With the proceeds, two brothers in the family—Malvinder and Shivinder Mohan Singh—grew Fortis Healthcare into India’s second largest hospital chain in terms of number of beds. Last year, Fortis, too, found a buyer in Malaysian healthcare group IHH Healthcare Bhd. Now, it is SRL’s time to find a buyer.

But SRL has a harder journey ahead of it than Ranbaxy and Fortis. First because, well, it failed at its only attempt to float an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Meanwhile, over the last few years, its peers Thyrocare, Dr Lal and Metropolis have all raised money in public markets.

Second, SRL carries a taint it can’t quite wash off. It carries the stench of the legal battle Malvinder and Shivinder Singh have been embroiled in for suppressing facts about Ranbaxy’s plants during its $4.6 billion sale to Tokyo-based pharma buyer Daiichi Sankyo. In fact, Daiichi told the Supreme Court last month that the Singhs still owe it Rs 4,000 crore ($576.9 million). As for Fortis, investors who considered buying it reportedly found money to the tune of Rs 900 crore ($129.8 million) siphoned off, leaving a possible ‘hole’ in the balance sheet.

While one would think this was enough, SRL’s problems don’t end with getting rid of its promoters’ legal legacy.

Its revenue—Rs 702 crore ($101.3 million) for the year ended March 2018—number of labs (368) and reach across India are indicative of its might against its competitors. It was valued at Rs 3,600 crore ($519.3 million) by American investor TPG Capital-backed Manipal Health last year. Dr Lal Path Labs, Thyrocare and Metropolis Healthcare floated IPOs in 2015, 2016 and last month, at valuations of Rs 4,400 crore ($634.7 million), Rs 2,400 crore ($346.2 million) and Rs 4,000 crore ($576.9 million), respectively. Since IHH Healthcare has bought out SRL’s promoter Fortis’ shares, it may even appear free of financial mismanagement. But IHH did not show enough confidence in SRL to buy the approximately 43% stake held by private equities and other shareholders. The stake that goes on sale soon. Fortis has decided to hire Kotak Mahindra Bank to aid the sale.


Ruhi Kandhari

Ruhi writes on the impact of healthcare policies, trends in the healthcare sector and developments on the implementation of Electronic Health Records in India. She has an M. Sc. in Development Studies from the London School of Economics.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at [email protected] detailing the error or queries.