Staff catering to patients during rush-hour at Aster Hospital in Al Qusais
The hospital operator Aster has got regulatory approval to become a 100 foreign shareholding company. It was founded by Dr. Azad Moopen. File picture of the hospital in Al Ghusais. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Aster DM Healthcare has got formal approval for 100 per cent ownership of its operations in the UAE. The clearance was provided by Dubai Government, as part of recent initiatives that allow businesses in certain sectors these rights.

This will not result in any major cash outflow towards investment, according to the hospital operator. The entire process will be completed before March 31, according to the company's founder. 

“We submitted two sets of documentation to Dubai Department of Economic Development for Aster DM to be granted 100 per cent in the UAE,” said Dr. Azad Moopen, founder and Chairman. “One was for the hospitals and clinics and the second set for the pharmacies that we operate. They required a second set of documentation because retail was not part of the sectors that allow 100 per cent foreign ownership. 

“The approval, the final one we received on February 3, legally confirms full ownership of the business here. Even earlier, we had all the economic benefits of being a 100 per cent owned company. Now, we make the full transition legally as well.”

The promoters of Aster DM, which is listed on Mumbai stock exchange, own 37.8 per cent in the company, while associates, private equity funds, and high networth individuals (HNWIs) hold 5 per cent, 24 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively. The rest are with the public and institutions.

Quite the path breaking move

It was last year that the UAE Government granted approval for 100 per cent ownership to foreign companies in approved sectors, and healthcare was one of them. The chocolate maker Mars became the first to avail of the reform, making the conversion to full ownership of its local operations last year.

Earlier, UAE nationals were required to be the legal/registered owners of UAE companies and foreign investors allowed to hold up to 49 per cent.