Al Borg labs to expand in Egypt, says CEO

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CAIRO: Al Borg Laboratories announced on Tuesday that the company plans to expand their labs and services in the Middle East and North Africa region, specifically in Egypt.

Currently operating in 90 branches across the country, Al Borg, in partnership with the region’s largest private equity firm, Abraaj Capital which owns 89.8 percent of the company, plans to expand even further in Egypt by the end of this year.

“While we are already very present in all of the country’s provinces, by the end of 2011, we plan to have about 100 labs across Egypt,” said Sherif Shaheen, CEO of Al Borg.

Hisham Moussa, Al Borg business development manager, pointed out Al Borg already had plans in Libya, but have been put on hold due to the country’s turmoil that followed shortly after Egypt’s 18-day revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak on February 11.

“We are studying the situation to expand to other places, from Jordan to the Gulf as well as to Morocco and Algeria,” Moussa said. “Currently, we’ve allocated LE 100 million for these enhancements and expansions.”

According to Shaheen, by the end of the year, they will have completed a new central industrial lab on a 4000 square meter in Maadi, costing LE 12 million for the site and another LE 10 million for the construction, not including equipment costs.

“Our new IT system will allow patients to easily retrieve their tests and these additional services will be at no cost, they aren’t aimed at profit-making, we’re simply enhancing our services,” Shaheen added. “This new system, which costs about $2 million will take about 18 months to set up.”

With help from industrial lab experts from France and the international community, the new industrial lab will not just conduct tests, but will also be a center for producing them.

Moussa also added that Al Borg’s acquisitions include partnerships with existing clinics that may already have doctors specialized in certain types of testing, that way the company can enhance and diversify its services.

“Our expansions will include partnerships, usually 50 percent to Al Borg and the partnering entity, or they will include controlling stakes, depending on the deal itself,” said Moussa.

Al Borg, which became the first Egyptian laboratory to receive its ISO 15189 international accredited from the Swedish Board for Accreditation and Conformity Assessment (SWEDAC), currently allows patients to use their medical checkups or tests anywhere in the world without having to conduct another checkup.

Sherif Shaheen, Al Borg’s chief executive, pointed out that expansion will not just be by the numbers, the company has various innovative ideas it plans to adopt in order to offer top-notch services to patients and clients.

“Al Borg now has the most tests that a local lab in Egypt can offer, so there is no reason why we can’t add other labs with different services under our umbrella,” said Shaheen.

Moreover, the company’s visions for expansion also include a commitment to social responsibility.

Every year, Al Borg conducts 6 million tests; 10,000 of which are free tests offered for those who cannot afford it.

“In collaboration with charity organizations across the country, we’ve created these free tests yearly,” Shaheen said. “The charity organizations help us pinpoint who needs to use these tests, so far this year not all of the free tests have been used up.”

With over 1400 employees, including 140 experienced physicians and doctors, Al Borg’s expansion expects to provide job opportunities for Egyptian employees by relocating some new employees abroad.

By providing decent salaries that will match their employees’ work experience as well as needs, Shaheen pointed out that Al Borg is keen on taking care of its employees.

“On the first of January this year, we increased our employees’ salaries by 33 percent,” Shaheen added. “We have to attract the best employees, while making sure we take care of our people.”

Currently, Al Borg has been operating in Egypt for 20 years. Their labs offer nine kinds of testing, including allergy tests, chemistry, virology, and hormone testing.

According to Moussa, however, Egyptians rarely ever get physicals or medical tests unless they already know that they are ill.

“In the US the rate of medical testing is at 20 percent, while in Egypt it’s 2 percent,” he said. “This is something that we hope to change; the perception of Egyptians when it comes to testing in order for people to maintain healthy lifestyles.”


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