SINGAPORE (Jan 10): Itochu Corporation, one of the largest trading companies in the world, is all set to become a strategic investor in OUE Lippo Healthcare through the private placement of $78.8 million worth of shares.

Itochu, with a market capital of over US$30 billion, intends to diversify into the growing healthcare market in Asia by taking a strategic stake in OUELH, the healthcare subsidiary of OUE.

OUELH says proceeds from the placement will be used to strengthen its financial position and put it in good stead to execute its business plans.

Itochu, through its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary Browny Healthcare, will acquire 562.5 million new shares new shares at 14 cents, 2 cents higher than OUELH's closing price on Wednesday.

The placement, which will be completed before Feb 10, will see Itochu owning a 25.3% stake in OUELH.

Masahiro Okafuji, President and CEO of Itochu, says, “We see the tremendous potential of the Asian healthcare market. Taking a stake in OUE Lippo Healthcare allows Itochu to partner with the Lippo Group to gain a strategic foothold in this growing sector.”

With Itochu as its shareholder, OUELH said it will be well positioned to harness business synergies in Japan and other parts of Asia, by leveraging on Itochu's premier global brand name, strategic partnerships with other leading conglomerates in Asia, vast business network, as well as investments in healthcare related businesses.

Stephen Riady, Executive Chairman of OUE and board director of OUELH, says, “I am excited about the strategic partnership between OUE Lippo Healthcare and Itochu. With its extensive network in Asia, ITOCHU will be a key partner for OUE Lippo Healthcare as it embarks on its growth path to become a leading healthcare company in Asia.”