22 Jun 2012

Metlifecare stock rises in wake of merger

7:05 am on 22 June 2012

Metlifecare's stock rose nearly 2% after the retirement village operator bowed to investor pressure to revise its planned takeover offer for a third time to get the deal approved.

On Thursday, the company's share price closed at $2.20, up 1.85%.

About 80% of shareholders supported the new plan to to buy Vision Senior Living and Private Life Care at a special meeting.

The deal was controversial from the start, with Metlifecare viewing it as compelling, a view some institutional investors did not share.

And when those investors remained unconvinced, the deal appeared set to fail.

Metlifecare chief executive Alan Edwards says negotiations to hammer out an acceptable agreement continued until late Wednesday evening.

Though the company had previously said the offer was the best it could do, investors managed to wrangle more concessions.

That included Vision receiving fewer shares than previously proposed, while Metlifecare will now sell properties instead of raising cash from outside investors.

AMP Capital Investors deputy head of equities John Phipps says the new deal ensures investors are better off.

Independent directors Brent Harman and John Loughlin also came under scrutiny for backing deals rejected by minority shareholders, and Metlifecare will now appoint two more independent directors, with the first coming on board within a month of the deal being completed.

Institutions put up their own list of independent directors for the company to consider, and signalled the existing independents will be replaced over time.

The company is likely to need expertise in property management, finance, and aged care, but Metlifecare's managing director, Alan Edwards, says who'll be appointed is a matter for the board.

Meanwhile, the retirement home operator has appointed CBRE to value its $1.3 billion portfolio, and it is signalling that its net assets may fall by up to 20 percent.