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Exclusive: PIP Implants Company For Sale

(c) Sky News 2012

A major stake in one of Britain’s biggest providers of the controversial PIP breast implants is poised to change hands following a review of its ownership.

General Healthcare Group (GHG), which trades under the name BMI Medical, is to explore options for its 42% shareholding in Transform Cosmetic Surgery Group.

I have learned that a review of its stake in the joint venture with Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L - news) , the state-backed bank, is expected to take place during the summer.

It comes amid a boom in cosmetic surgery in Britain despite a string of high-profile recent scares including the PIP controversy which led to thousands of British women having breast implants removed earlier this year.

Transform, which also provides a range of other cosmetic surgery services, was among the users of the faulty French-made implants to agree to remove them free of charge.

GHG is reviewing all of the joint venture interests held by BMI Healthcare and last month sold its stake in Care Fertility Group, a leading provider of fertility treatment, to Bowmark Capital, a private equity firm.

GHG is owned by Netcare (Berlin: NH7.BE - news) , a South African healthcare group, and Apax Partners, the buyout firm.

It has been left with about £2.3bn of debt which must be repaid by October next year, and has hired restructuring advisers from investment bank Rothschild to lead negotiations with creditors.

It is unclear how much GHG’s stake in Transform would be worth, and I’m told that the company will decline to offload it if it does not secure an attractive price.

GHG declined to comment.