EQT Fund IV agrees NZ$1.5bn deal to acquire listed retirement village operator

Asia Pacific Village Group, owned by EQT Infrastructure Fund IV, increased its bid for Metlifecare by 50 cents to NZ$7 per share and has secured agreement from the company’s largest shareholder, NZ Super.

EQT Partners has agreed a deal to acquire listed New Zealand retirement homes operator Metlifecare for approximately NZ$1.5 billion ($1.0 billion; €890 million).

The firm will do the deal via Asia Pacific Village Group, an entity owned by EQT Infrastructure Fund IV, and is offering NZ$7.00 per share to acquire 100 percent of the company.

This represents a premium of 38 percent to Metlifecare’s closing share price on 19 November, the last day before EQT’s previous non-binding indicative offer of NZ$6.50 per share was announced. That offer was publicised without disclosing EQT’s identity.

The deal is being entirely funded by EQT Infrastructure Fund IV and will take the vehicle to 55-60 percent deployment.

Metlifecare was established in 1984 and owns and operates a portfolio of 25 retirement villages across New Zealand housing more than 5,600 residents. The firm said its villages are in areas with strong local economies, supportive demographics and high median house prices, predominantly in the country’s upper North Island.

EQT said in a statement on 29 December that it had entered into a voting deed with Metlifecare’s largest shareholder, New Zealand Superannuation Fund, which holds 19.86 percent of the company’s shares.

It said an additional 22 percent of shareholders had also indicated their intention to EQT that they would vote in favour of the deal in the absence of a superior proposal.

Metlifecare’s board unanimously recommended that shareholders vote in favour of the transaction. The company is listed on both the New Zealand and Australian securities exchanges. Shareholders will vote on the deal at a special meeting to be held in April.

Metlifecare chair Kim Ellis said in a statement that the listed company was confident that EQT’s philosophy and values aligned with its own.

“We are confident that they will continue to focus on ensuring Metlifecare’s village and care operations have customers at the core, as well as growing the business through development of new villages,” he said.

Fabian Gröne, partner at EQT Partners and investment advisor to EQT Infrastructure Fund IV, said in a statement: “We are delighted about the opportunity to partner with Metlifecare and are fully committed to supporting Metlifecare and its management team to embark on this exciting journey to develop and operate high-quality retirement villages and continue to provide the exceptional care to New Zealanders which Metlifecare is known for.”

EQT held a final close on its fourth infrastructure vehicle in March 2019 after collecting €9 billion during six months of fundraising. The fund was 10 percent invested at the time, having deployed capital into Saur, a French wastewater management and treatment company, and Osmose Utilities Services, which provides maintenance and restoration services to utility and telecommunications businesses in the US.