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UPDATE 1-Australia's Ramsay Health Care profit more than halves on COVID curbs

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(Updates with background, CEO comment)

April 29 (Reuters) - Australia's largest private hospital operator Ramsay Health Care said on Friday its profit more than halved in the third quarter due to higher costs and disruptions from COVID-19 curbs.

The company, which has been approached by a KKR & Co led group with a near-$15 billion takeover bid, posted a net profit after tax attributable to shareholders of A$42.7 billion ($30.31 billion), down 59% from a year ago.

The operator of hospitals and clinics across 10 countries in three continents faced staff and clinician shortages in Australia during the January-March quarter, but those disruptions have eased with the loosening of COVID-19 curbs.

"While the 3QFY22 has seen significant levels of disruption in the business due to high rates of COVID in the community, we are starting to see activity levels rise as surgical restrictions lift and our regions move into an endemic COVID setting," Chief Executive Craig McNally said in a statement.

Ramsay said last week it was engaging in preliminary talks with the KKR-led group and had provided the group with due diligence on a non-exclusive basis. ($1 = 1.4086 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Aditya Soni)

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