Vitals owner reveals how hospitals privatisation deal was all sewn up months before tender

At least five months before the public call for interested parties, the Bluestone investors had set out an agreement on the hospitals they were about to take over

Main investors: (clockwise left to right) Ram Tumuluri, Mark Pawley, Ashok Rattahalli, and Ambrish Gupta
Main investors: (clockwise left to right) Ram Tumuluri, Mark Pawley, Ashok Rattahalli, and Ambrish Gupta

A shareholder of Vitals Global Healthcare has revealed an agreement in court showing the entrepreneurs were aware of the hospitals’ privatisation deal months before the public call for tenders.

American doctor Ashok Rattehalli revealed an agreement dated 23 November 2014 – five months before the public call – that says VGH’s owners had already entered into an agreement with the Maltese government to take over the Gozo and St Luke’s hospitals.

The agreement was a memorandum of understanding between Dr Ambrish Gupta, and a consortium that included Rattehalli’s AGMC Incorporated, Ram Tumuluri’s offshore company Portpool Investments, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands, and Mark Pawley’s Bluestone Special Situations 4, also a BVI company.

Already in November 2014, the partners knew they were headed to take over the 210-bed Gozo hospital and “operate the hospital as per the terms agreed with the government of Malta”; as well as to build an additional 200-bed hospital in Gozo as a teaching hospital together with the Barts campus; as well as the potential acquisition of St Luke’s or St Philip’s hospital – the latter a private hospital belonging to the Golden Shepherd group.

Neither the Maltese government nor VGH have ever declared all the beneficial owners of the hospital project beyond Mark Pawley.

St Luke's Hospital, now committed for some 99 years to the owners of the privatisation concession
St Luke's Hospital, now committed for some 99 years to the owners of the privatisation concession

The agreement however shines a light on the structure of the company owning VGH, whose 30-year concession is now to be sold to American private healthcare giant Steward Health Care:

  1. Bluestone Special Situations 4, AGMC, Ambrish Gupta, and Portpool each own an equal 25% share in a special purpose vehicle that holds 70% of the hospitals projects;
  2. All parties to the investment affirmed themselves as being “involved in the decision-making in both operations and strategy of Bluestone Malta”... which is probably the special purpose vehicle created for the deal;
  3. The other 30% owner is not specified in the agreement;
  4. However, Bluestone Special Situations 4 is the owner of the Malta company Bluestone Investments Malta, which is a 70% shareholder in Crossrange Holdings together with the company Pivot Holdings (30%).
  5. Pivot is owned by Pakistani entrepreneurs Shaukat Ali Chaudry, who lives at Tigné Point in Sliema, and Mohammed Shoaib Walajahi.
  6. Importantly, Crossrange Holdings – created on 12 December 2014 – owns the two companies Gozo International Medicare and Gozo Global Healthcare (created 15 December 2014).
  7. These last two companies were planned as the asset holding company and operations company of the special purpose vehicle, as stated in the agreement.

Who are Pivot Holdings?

These facts alone now place ‘mystery’ entrepreneurs Shaukat Ali Chaudry and Mohammed Shoaib Walajahi at the centre of the negotiations that took place with the Maltese government well before the expression of interest to privatise three state hospitals happened.

Walajahi is the CEO and founder of Pivot Management Consultancy in Dubai, where he cultivated a “highly select client base” of ultra high-net worth individuals and institutional investors looking for real estate deals. His Facebook profile photo places him right at the steps of the Office of the Prime Minister.

Outside the Auberge de Castille: an undated photo of Shoaib Walajahi
Outside the Auberge de Castille: an undated photo of Shoaib Walajahi

 

As for Shaukat Ali Chaudry, MaltaToday had already revealed that, together with Ram Tumuluri, the two men were busy seeking a €50 million equity stake for a renewable energy project, in a meeting with a Norwegian company where they boasted of VGH being valued at €2.8 billion.

Shaukat Ali Chaudry had also tried to broker the sale of the private Sliema hospital St James Capua right before April 2015. He was then appearing as the 20% owner of Medical Health Management & Consulting (MHMC).

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