ComfortDelGro goes Down Under with an unusual venture into non-emergency transport services

ComfortDelGro makes its foray into the non-emergency patient transportation business with its latest acquisition deal.
The Straits Times

Singapore land transportation company ComfortDelGro recently clinched a multi-million dollar acquisition deal that is set to propel its latest venture into an unconventional market in Australia.

On Monday (Apr 9), ComfortDelGro announced that it is expanding into the non-emergency patient transportation business through a S$30.2 million ($23 million) acquisition of Australian non-emergency patient transport provider National Patient Transport (NPT).

The purchase of all shares in NPT – one of the largest private service providers of its kind in Australia – will allow ComfortDelGro to diversify its competencies beyond existing businesses.

These include its businesses of bus, taxi, rail, automotive engineering, driving centre, car rental and leasing, insurance broking as well as outdoor advertising services.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval, said a statement from the company.

NPT was set up in 1993, the same year the Victoria Government separated non-emergency and emergency ambulance transport services.

It was one of the first private operators to be awarded a contract.

NPT currently boasts a fleet of 144 vehicles and operates in the states of Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.

ComfortDelGro runs public scheduled bus services in the former two states as well as taxi services in the latter.

NPT offers healthcare transport services to major metropolitan hospital networks – including walker, hoist and stretcher transport services – and specialist services for high acuity and complex patients.

In addition, it operates a registered training organisation qualified to deliver and assess a range of non-emergency healthcare transport, first aid and resuscitation courses in Australia.

Mr Yang Ban Seng, managing director and group CEO for ComfortDelGro, said: “It enables us to leverage on our core capabilities in contract, fleet and manpower management whilst broadening our breadth of skills.”

He noted that the non-emergency patient transport business is going through a boom and shows potential in light of ageing populations in much of the developed world.

“With this acquisition, we will be able to use our newly acquired skills set to explore similar opportunities in other geographies.”

The Australian patient transport industry is worth approximately S$3.53 billion annually, with expected 3 to 4% revenue growth, according to a 2016 IBISWorld industry report.