The NHS Information Centre may write down the value of its controversial £12m share in a joint venture with Dr Foster.

In 2006, the Department of Health paid £12m for its 50 per cent share in the joint venture company, Dr Foster Intelligence.

In February 2007 the department was criticised by the National Audit Office for spending more than twice what some valuations suggested should be paid.

The department’s advisers had estimated the value of the entire venture at between £10m and £15m, suggesting a 50 per cent share would be worth £5m-£7.5m.

The value of the Information Centre’s share is due to be reassessed for its end of year accounts. A report given to the centre’s board at the end of January said: “There is a possibility of a diminution in value being required due to the existing economic and financial climate.”

The revaluation will be carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which last year recommended that the Information Centre did not adjust the £12m value that appears on its balance sheet.

The joint venture reported a turnover of £9.4m in its first 15 months of existence to the end of 2006, on which it made a £2.8m loss. In 2007 it turned over £25.8m but lost £463,237.

Some of its increased revenue in 2007 related to its contract to run the NHS Choices website. When the contract for the service came up for renewal last year, Dr Foster lost it to its competitor, Capita.

Doctor Foster chief executive Tom Moloney denied there would be any devaluation.

He said: “Our auditors have confirmed for the 2008 calendar year there is no impairment of the business. They are encouraged by the growth prospects for Dr Foster in the coming years.”

The joint venture is expected to report a profit for 2008 and a healthy cash flow. At the end of 2007 its net assets were valued at £20.7m.

Last month the health informatics firm CHKS, a competitor to Dr Foster Intelligence, was acquired by Capita for £11.6m. CHKS’s turnover in 2008 was £8m, on which it made a £1.6m profit.