Less than a year after making its first foray into China's healthcare sector, Singapore developer Perennial Real Estate Holdings has now set ambitious goals for itself: to set up integrated healthcare hubs in 20 to 40 Chinese cities.
The concept will be similar to that of the Perennial International Health and Medical Hub in south-western Chengdu city, which is touted as the largest integrated healthcare development in western China with 280,000 sq m of gross floor area.
Located next to the Chengdu East high-speed rail station, the hub will include eldercare homes, hotels, serviced apartments, commercial offices and retail.
Perennial chief executive officer Pua Seck Guan said at a briefing yesterday that the company is already in talks over similar projects in several cities.
He hinted that they are provincial capitals and located in the western regions.
"The projects should be located around transportation hubs to reach a sizeable population. Also, a capital city can provide sufficient human resources for hospitals," said Mr Pua, at a media briefing yesterday after Perennial secured key tenants for its Chengdu project.
Perennial, whose businesses were largely retail, residential, office and hotel till its entry into healthcare last July, entered a joint venture on Thursday with two Chinese firms - Shanghai Summit and Shanghai RST Chinese Medicine - to operate the eldercare segment of its Chengdu hub.
Yesterday, Singapore healthcare operator Parkway Pantai held a lease-signing ceremony to set up the ParkwayHealth Chengdu Hospital that will occupy 48,000 sq m and provide up to 350 beds.
It will be the first foreign tertiary hospital in western China and also a first for Parkway Pantai, which is a subsidiary of IHH Healthcare, the world's second-largest healthcare operator by market capitalisation.
Parkway Pantai Group CEO Tan See Leng said in his speech that the company is investing 900 million yuan (S$197 million) into the hospital, which is targeted to open next year. He added that the company decided to expand into Chengdu as it is one of the fastest-growing cities in western China and that the location at the Chengdu East rail station is ideal, providing transport to some 148 million people within a two-hour train ride.
Mr Pua said Perennial and Parkway are working together because they are familiar with each other's strengths, which is crucial for their first healthcare project and first hospital in China, respectively.
Now with the key tenants settled, the next step is to ensure that the hub, which is set to complete construction this year, would be able to provide top-notch medical treatment and quality service, said Mr Pua.
He also outlined potential challenges, such as the need to keep costs low as Perennial has to operate the hub over time, instead of just building and selling properties.
"Another challenge is to win stakeholders in those cities over to our concept."