Southern Cross to begin transfers

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More than 250 care homes run by Southern Cross are to be transferred to new companies by this weekend as part of the liquidation plans to shut down the sector's biggest operator.

Southern, which runs 752 sites and has 31,000 residents, said more than a third of its homes will be transferred to about 20 new operators, believed to include its rival Four Seasons.

These will be the first homes to be moved from the ailing care home giant since it announced it had no choice but to close after it was unable to afford rent bills as its income fell.

Southern also said it is "very confident"all of its homes will be transferred to new operators by 1 November with none expected to close.

NHP, which owns 249 of Southern's homes, is to form a new care home operating company in conjunction with Court Cavendish, a healthcare turnaround specialist headed by industry veteran Chai Patel. The remainder are expected to be taken on by rival operators and landlords, although negotiations are ongoing.

"The vast majority" of Southern's 43,000 staff are expected to transfer, although a small number of redundancies are expected, particularly in administrative roles in Woking.