Image Credit: Social Media

Dubai: A Saudi pediatrician has become one of the world’s wealthiest doctors - after the medical-services group he founded priced its initial public offering at the top of a marketed range.

Sulaiman Abdulaziz Al Habib’s 49 per cent stake in his eponymous company is worth 8.5 billion riyals ($2.3 billion), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, based on the announced selling price of 50 riyals a share. He plans to sell 17.4 million shares in the IPO, according to the prospectus.

The Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Group is one of the biggest providers of health care in Saudi Arabia, operating hospitals, outpatient clinics, pharmacies and medical labs throughout the kingdom as well as in Dubai and Bahrain. The IPO is the first in Saudi Arabia since state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco raised almost $30 billion in December.

Al Habib, 68, established the business in 1993 after serving as chief medical officer and head of pediatrics at two government-owned hospitals in Riyadh. A graduate of King Saud University, he did his pediatrics fellowship at the Royal College of Physicians in the UK. He also invests in commercial real estate through a holding company, according to the prospectus.

Opening up health care

The firm is seeking to capitalize on the government’s plans to ramp up private sector participation in health care and the country’s demographic trends. Saudi Arabia’s population is disproportionately young and relatively unhealthy. More than a third of adults are obese and 18.5 per cent suffer from diabetes, according to World Health Organization statistics.

Very few doctors rank among the world’s richest people. HCA Healthcare Inc. co-founder and former US Air Force flight surgeon Thomas Frist is the wealthiest with a networth of $13.1 billion, according the the Bloomberg index. Biotech entrepreneur and physician Patrick Soon-Shiong has a $9.2 billion fortune.