Linking medical tourism and high-speed rail in China

Perennial Real Estate Holdings is making major inroads into China via a US$1.2 billion joint venture to acquire and develop healthcare integrated mixed-use developments connected to China’s high-speed railway (HSR) stations.

Singapore-based real estate and health care group Perennial has two existing HSR projects in Chengdu and Xi’an. With the establishment of a new joint venture (JV) vehicle, it has the potential to grow the HSR portfolio to up to eight projects.

The JV will enable Perennial to cater to the growing demand for quality medical and healthcare-related services arising from China’s population, which is fast ageing and growing in affluence. Having the developments near HSR stations would support China’s Belt and Road initiative and the growth of medical tourism in China.

Through a subsidiary, Perennial would hold a 45% stake in its first JV vehicle, and the rest is owned by held by a consortium of partners from Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.

The JV will target HSR healthcare integrated mixed-use developments opportunities in Tier 1 or strong Tier 2 cities and provincial capitals in China near transportation hubs, particularly HSR stations.

Positioned as one-stop regional healthcare hubs, the HSR healthcare integrated mixed-use developments are expected to host healthcare real estate featuring core medical/healthcare facilities, including various types of specialised hospitals, such as international general hospitals, women’s and children’s hospitals, geriatric hospitals and rehabilitation hospitals, as well as medical centres, elder-care homes and nursing homes. There will also be complementary medical and healthcare related services, including diagnostic centres and pharmacies. The developments will also include hotels, retail, serviced apartments and offices, and will support various communities, including residents of the city and beyond.

Perennial will set up an asset and project management company and a hotel management company to manage the asset, project and hotel management aspects of the HSR healthcare integrated mixed-use developments. A Perennial subsidiary will be the property manager.

Through the One Belt initiative, China has invested across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and into Eastern Europe; while seeking to attract huge amounts of investment from governments and private companies for mega developments in China.

Perennial has three core lines of healthcare businesses in China: hospital and medical services, eldercare and senior housing, and maternal and child management. Through partnerships and JVs with reputable players in the market, Perennial is becoming a major healthcare player. With China’s changing demographics, supportive government policies and growing market for private quality medical care these three core healthcare sectors present significant growth potential for the company.

China is building an unprecedented high-speed rail system that is expected to exceed 30,500 kilometres (19,000 miles) by 2020. With this project, China is planning to connect the capitals of its 27 provinces and offer speedy train routes to commuters and travellers. The system includes 11 high-speed rail lines. To date, over 19,000 kilometres of the system are operational, significantly reducing travel time for its citizens.