Metlifecare receives takeover bid

The board says the expression of interest to acquire the company is below expectations.
Metlifecare chief executive Glen Sowry

One of New Zealand’s largest retirement village providers, Metlifecare, has notified the NZX of an expression of interest from an anonymous party in acquiring the company.

In a notice posted to the NZX, Metlifecare said it has commenced discussions on the back of a “highly conditional, non-binding preliminary expression of interest,” but said, “the price proposed is below the board’s expectations.”

Established in 1984, Metlifecare owns and operates a portfolio of 25 villages, located predominantly in New Zealand’s upper North Island.

The discussions have halted a planned share buyback programme for $30 million worth of shares of the NZX-listed retirement village provider that was was due to begin this week.

Chief executive Glen Sowry said discussions with the interested party were "open ended" at this stage, though they would not impact planned developments and investment that the company had on the horizon.

Metlifecare has previously reported an it expected investment in five major projects is to exceed $500m over the next three years. 

Sowry would not comment on the identity of the interested company, or say whether it was a New Zealand entity. 

At the time of the share buyback announcement in late October, Metlifecare chair Kim Ellis said the company was in a “strong financial position with a robust balance sheet” but the share price did not appropriately reflect the company’s value.

Sowry said the share buyback programme could "potentially" be reintroduced once things were resolved regarding the takeover bid. 

In its latest annual results, published in September, Metlifecare reported a net profit of $39.2m after tax and $3.5 billion in assets. Chief executive Glen Sowry said at the time targeted land acquisitions, profitable developments and sales were particular areas of focus for the company in the coming year.

The company was founded and listed on the NZX in 1994 and listed on the Australian stock exchange in 2013.

Metlifecare chief financial officer Richard Thomson said he had nothing further to say beyond the announcement posted to the NZX. 

Metlifecare shares have lifted and are trading at $5.80 on the back of the announcement, up 14.1% from $5.08 when the sharemarket opened, but down from $6.43 a year ago.  

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