Australian health services provider Symbion Health Ltd. said on Monday it expected a 16 percent increase in full-year profit, adding that an independent expert had backed a proposed A$2.9 billion ($2.5 billion) takeover by smaller rival Healthscope Ltd.

Symbion said it expected 2007 net profit after tax to increase by 16.4 percent to A$97.7 million. Healthscope's net profit before non-recurring items was expected to rise 39 percent to A$68.7 million.

The forecasts were included in a stock exchange filing on the takeover deal. The filing also included a report from independent expert Ernst & Young, which concluded that the proposed takeover was in the best interests of Symbion shareholders.

Symbion accepted a sweetened offer from Healthscope and its partners, Ironbridge Capital and Archer Capital, in June.

The proposed merger is expected to create Australia's largest pathology provider, with leading positions in private hospitals, medical centers and diagnostic imaging.

Rival health services provider Primary Health Care Ltd. has built up a stake of almost 14 percent in Symbion in recent weeks, but has not revealed its intentions.

Symbion and Healthscope report earnings on August 22, and Symbion shareholders are due to vote on the deal on September 11.

Symbion said revenue had increased across all divisions, with pharmacy services contributing the largest increase.