Nuffield Health – which has 31 hospitals, six medical centres and 65 fitness and wellbeing centres in the UK – said it did not have a hospital in London.
King Edward VII’s Hospital recently commissioned a strategic review that concluded a merger could be in the "long-term interests of the hospital, especially with respect to funding major capital projects".
Nuffield Health has an annual turnover of approximately £500m and employs 13,000 staff. King Edward VII’s Hospital employs 250 people and has a turnover of about £19m a year.
The hospital said it had received a commitment from Nuffield Heath that there would be no change to its name and that it would keep its royal charter if a merger was completed.
King Edward VII’s Hospital has also obtained a guarantee that money it has raised from donors to help military personnel will be ringfenced for that purpose. King Edward VII’s Hospital has traditionally provided care and support to the defence industry alongside regular patients.
Both sides said there would be no redundancies in the event of a merger and that the hospital would remain on its existing site in central London.
A joint statement from the charities said they shared an ethos that "clearly places patients and clinical decision-making ahead of commercial gain – any surpluses that are made are reinvested for the benefits of their patients."
Talks are at an exploratory stage and no timetable has been set for the negotiations.
David Mobbs, chief executive of Nuffield Health, said: "Nuffield Health members already benefit from fitness, wellbeing and clinical services in central London, but we are missing a flagship London hospital. King Edward VII’s Hospital shares our brand values very well and together we would be able to offer London patients excellent care in first-rate facilities."
John Lofthouse, chief executive of King Edward VII’s Hospital, said: "Nuffield Health is a major player in the UK healthcare market and shares King Edward VII’s Hospital’s commitment to providing the highest standards of care and quality. These talks may provide us with an exciting opportunity to further benefit our patients while securing our long term future."