BUSINESS IN SHORT

New owner for health insurer Apollo

AGEL SK has acquired a majority stake in the health insurance company Apollo Zdravotná Poisťovňa. Agel, which is controlled by Slovak businessman Tomáš Chrenek, and is particularly active in the Czech market, acquired 51 percent of Apollo's shares from Bratislava-based EIC. Neither party commented on the price paid for the shares.

AGEL SK has acquired a majority stake in the health insurance company Apollo Zdravotná Poisťovňa. Agel, which is controlled by Slovak businessman Tomáš Chrenek, and is particularly active in the Czech market, acquired 51 percent of Apollo's shares from Bratislava-based EIC. Neither party commented on the price paid for the shares.

The transaction has yet to receive clearance from the Health Care Supervisory Office and the Antitrust Office.

The remaining 49 percent of the health insurer remains in the hands of private equity group Penta. Apollo has about 460,000 clients among the country's 5.4 million citizens.

Agel manages the biggest grouping of private healthcare facilities in post-communist Central Europe. It operates 11 hospitals, seven polyclinics and other healthcare facilities in Moravia and Silesia, the Sme daily reported. It also owns the drugs distributor Martek.

Agel has made no secret of its interest in extending its Slovak operations, which was the reason it set up its Agel SK affiliate.

"Probably it will aim for vertical integration in the Slovak market as well," Peter Pažitný, a healthcare expert, told Sme when asked about Agel's reasons for buying a health insurer in a market where such companies are barred from paying dividends to shareholders.

As of the start of this year, private health insurers have been banned from using their profits for any other purpose than to channel them back into the healthcare system.

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