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Metlifecare sells Wairarapa, aims north

NZN 20/04/2016 Sophie Boot

Metlifecare has sold its Wairarapa retirement village for $6 million as it focuses its expansion on the upper North Island.

The Auckland-based company, which operates 25 retirement villages and nine care facilities nationwide and employs more than 1000 staff, says the sale will be settled on June 30, subject to approval from the village's statutory supervisor and the transfer of Ministry of Health and district health board contracts within the village.

It didn't name the buyer.

The Wairarapa requirement market wasn't likely to grow and the money from the sale could be better invested in areas with higher growth.

In February, Metlifecare posted a first-half profit of $125.7m, more than triple 2015's result, and mainly due to the impact of booming property prices in Auckland and Bay of Plenty.

At the time, chief executive Alan Edwards said the company's low level of debt and significant funding headroom allowed it to seek further opportunities.

"With the number of New Zealanders aged over 75 years expected to almost double in the next 30 years, the bulk of them in the upper North Island, Metlifecare's development pipeline is strategically focused in these regions," he said.

Metlifecare had 307 units under construction as of December 31, up 55 per cent on the previous period. During the half, it completed 41 units and 36 care beds. The company expects to deliver a further 28 units in the second half at Oakridge Villas in Kerikeri and Papamoa Beach Village in Bay of Plenty.

Metlifecare's development pipeline is 2184 units and beds, up 50 per cent on a year ago.

The shares last traded at $5.34 and have gained 15 per cent so far this year.

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