Evolution cleared to takeover Austron pending Boulcott Hospital divestment

Commerce Commission cleared Evolution to acquire all of the shares in Austron.

Evolution Healthcare, the Australian healthcare investor, has been cleared to buy out its partners in private hospital operator Acurity Healthcare [NZX: ACY], provided it offloads its Boulcott facility in Lower Hutt.

The Commerce Commission cleared Evolution to acquire all of the shares in Austron, the investment vehicle used by the Stewart family and Royston Health Trust Board, giving it full ownership of Acurity, which operates the Wakefield and Bowen private hospitals in Wellington. Because Evolution separately owns Boulcott hospital, the Sydney-based investor said it would sell the site to an independent party approved by the commission.

"The commission is satisfied that subject to the undertaking, the acquisition will not have or would not be likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition in any of the affected markets," commission chair Mark Berry said in a statement. "Evolution's undertaking to divest its interest in Boulcott Hospital will return the market to its pre-acquisition structure, with three competitive options for health insurers, ACC, and patients."

Evolution's ownership of Boulcott delayed the Australian investor's joint venture with the Stewart family and Royston Health Trust Board to take Acurity private last year, and led to Evolution having to water down its stake in the holding company.

The group convinced minority shareholders to sell up last year in a deal that valued Acurity at $112.2 million, with the proposed upgrade of the flagship Wakefield hospital set to cost north of $50 million, something they claimed the public company wasn't equipped to deal with.