Blackstone tables £563m bid for NHP

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The Independent Online

Blackstone Group, the American private equity giant, laid down a £563m offer yesterday for NHP, the UK's largest owner of private nursing homes, in an all-cash bid that has received the backing of the board.

Blackstone Group, the American private equity giant, laid down a £563m offer yesterday for NHP, the UK's largest owner of private nursing homes, in an all-cash bid that has received the backing of the board.

The 260p-a-share offer represents a 12 per cent premium to NHP's closing price on 14 September, the last day before the group entered its offer period. As well as securing board approval, Blackstone said yesterday it had also received irrevocable undertakings from shareholders representing about 30 per cent of the group's issued share capital, and letters of intent to accept the offer from shareholders representing a further 25 per cent.

The deal is Blackstone's second in the UK nursing home sector over the past three months, following the group's acquisition of Southern Cross Healthcare for £162m in September. It also comes just weeks after Barchester Healthcare agreed to buy Westminster Health Care Holdings from 3i for £525m.

Commenting on the deal yesterday, Joseph Baratta, a principal of the Blackstone Group, said: "We believe NHP is a unique asset in the UK care home sector. Combining Highfield Care [a subsidiary of NHP] with Southern Cross ... creates the operator with the largest number of care homes in the UK. We intend to capitalise on the scale and breadth of the enlarged business."

Sir John Kirby Laing, the chairman of NHP, said: "The recovery in NHP's business brought about by the current senior management team has led to a 14-fold increase in the share price within the last four years and an 83.4 per cent increase in the share price over the last 12 months. The offer from [Blackstone] gives shareholders the opportunity to realise the value of their investment at an attractive price."

NHP owns 17,400 beds across more than 355 homes in the UK. Its also manages 165 homes through its subsidiary Highfield Care, which is the UK's third largest operator.

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