Goldsborough agrees pounds 76m offer from Bupa

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The Independent Online
Sameena Ahmad

Goldsborough, which exactly a year ago fought off a hostile takeover bid from Westminster Health Care, yesterday agreed to a pounds 76.7m cash offer from Bupa, the healthcare provider.

The bid values Goldsborough at 175p a share plus a 1.4p interim dividend, and left the group's shares 37 per cent higher at 172.5p. The rise means that Westminster's 9.1 per cent stake in Goldsborough, built at the time of its attempted offer, is now worth pounds 6.9m, almost pounds 2m more than before the Bupa bid. "It's nice that we got our money back," joked Pat Carter, Westminster's chief executive.

Graham Smith, Goldsborough's chief executive, said the offer, which at 176.4p is 20p higher than Westminster's 156p-a-share cash alternative, vindicated his controversial decision to fend off last year's bid: "We always felt that Westminster's price was inadequate."

Analysts welcomed the deal and said further consolidation was to come in the nursing homes sector. Paul Saper, of industry consultants Laing & Buisson, said: "This is not the end of the story. The attitude in this sector is buy anything that moves. Where does it leave Community Hospitals, for instance?"

Bupa, which yesterday bought Goldsborough shares in the market, increasing its stake to 29.3 per cent, is unlikely to be outbid. Peter Jacobs, Bupa's chief executive, also refuted suggestions that buying Goldsborough, which adds 32 nursing homes to its own 44 and six hospitals to its 29, might raise monopoly issues because Bupa was both a provider and purchaser of healthcare services. "After this we will still have just 1.2 per cent of the hospital market and there is no geographical overlap in the nursing homes," said Mr Jacobs.

Mr Smith, who recently put half of Goldsborough's nursing homes up for sale, will stay on at Bupa to run its expanded nursing homes business. "It's a bit ironic, given that he has been trying to move out of the business," said Mr Saper.