Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world’s largest container ship owner, is expanding into the healthcare sector.

The Soren Toft-led company is set to takeover London-listed private hospital group Mediclinic as part of a consortium which has submitted a £3.7bn ($4.5bn) bid for the company.

The company has health-care facilities in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates as well as South Africa, where it has a dual listing.

The bid is being led by Remgro, the investment vehicle of South Africa’s richest man Johann Rupert.

The consortium pitched their latest offer at £5.04 per share for the stock it does not already own, according to a recent statement.

That was the fourth approach, including a £4.63 per share bid that was rejected in June.

Diego Ponte, president of MSC, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Remgro on the acquisition of Mediclinic, a business we have great admiration for.

“MSC is very well placed to provide long-term capital, as well as our insight and experience from operating a global business in order to support the strategic ambitions of the Mediclinic management team.

“We believe that, alongside Remgro, our ownership will provide Mediclinic with significant resources to the benefit of all of Mediclinic’s stakeholders, including in particular its patients, employees, doctors and host governments.”

The Swiss-based shipowner declined to elaborate on why it is expanding into healthcare.

In April this year, MSC agreed to buy the African transport and logistics business of Bollore for €5.7bn ($6bn) including debt after acquiring a stake in Italian ferry operator Moby in March.

In January, MSC teamed up with Germany’s flagship airline, Deutsche Lufthansa, to bid for ITA, the successor to Italy’s Alitalia.

MSC is not the first liner-related company to invest in the healthcare sector.

In December 2021, AP Moller Holding, which invests the wealth of the billionaire Maersk family, announced it was moving into healthcare with the acquisition of Covid-19 test maker and diagnostics company Unilabs.

APM Holding, whose main asset is a controlling stake in shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk, agreed to acquire the Geneva-based company from private equity firm Apax Partners for an undisclosed sum.