Go East! Elbit Medical Inking Major Indian Deals

Elbit Medical Imaging, owned by Mordechay Zisser, is sinking over $1 billion in investments in India. Last week, Zisser and Elbit Medical Imaging vice chair Abraham Goren were in the subcontinent to close deals already in the advanced stages of negotiations.

Elbit's Indian ventures include chains of hospitals, hotels and malls as well as office and residential complexes.

Elbit's largest project in India, which has yet to be signed, involves establishing a chain of hospitals in partnership with a local company, Ambuja Realty.

The first hospital, which will house a thousand beds, will be built in Calcutta at a cost of $230 million. A biotechnology center will be located next to the hospital. Construction is slated to commence in four months.

Ambuja is considered one of the richest concerns in India. In the past it has held the country's largest cement company. Ambuja currently operates a community hospital for women and children for charity and has connections with the medical center in Herzliya.

Elbit and Ambuja plan to establish a joint company of equal ownership that will construct at least 18 hospitals in major cities across India as well as a medical college and nursing school. The joint company will also operate the hospitals. The Indian-Israeli network will allow for telemedicine - long-distance consultation - and exchanges of doctors for training and operations. In addition, medical staffs from India will attend training seminars in Israel.

Elbit Medical Imaging was originally involved in medical equipment. When Zisser bought the company, he turned it into a real estate firm. Now the company is returning to the medical field through a synthesis of the two fields. In addition, Elbit's subsidiaries Gamida Cell and InSightec, are also expected to enter the Indian market.

Gamida Cell specializes in developing stem cell therapeutics. The company plans to build a research and production center in India. Gamida may be the only company in the world that has the technology to reproduce stem cells, which would circumvent the moral debate on extracting stem cells from fetuses. InSightec, which specializes in surgically removing fibroid tissue through ultrasound and without using invasive techniques, also plans to build a treatment center and a research center in India.