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Insurer Centene to sell UK unit to UAE's PureHealth in $1.2 billion deal

(Reuters) -Centene said on Monday it will sell British hospital operator Circle Health Group to United Arab Emirates-based PureHealth for about $1.2 billion including debt, as the U.S. health insurer refocuses on its core business.

The acquisition will help PureHealth, which is the UAE's largest healthcare provider, enter the UK market in a deal that it said has the potential to deliver wide-ranging benefits to the healthcare ecosystems of both countries.

"These benefits include the expansion of clinical knowledge and delivery of new medical techniques through enhanced collaboration between medical professionals, as well as the use of cutting-edge technologies and provision of broadened treatment options for patients in the UAE," PureHealth said in a statement.

Founded in 2004, Circle Health is one of the UK's largest network of private hospitals with 54 establishments across the country.

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U.S.-based health insurer Centene is undergoing a review of its portfolio and expects the deal to close in the first quarter of next year.

Centene first invested in UK-based Circle Health in 2019 and acquired its remaining equity in 2021.

PureHealth is majority-owned by Abu Dhabi investment fund ADQ, with International Holding Company also holding a stake. Both ADQ and IHC are chaired by Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the national security adviser and a brother of UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

The firm recently completed a 1.8 billion dirham ($490.12 million) purchase of an equity investment in Ardent Health Services, which is a U.S.-based private healthcare group.

($1 = 3.6726 UAE dirham)

(Reporting by Sriparna Roy in Bengaluru and Hadeel Al Sayegh in Dubai; Editing by Devika Syamnath)