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Wakefield declares its Norfolk bid unconditional with 86%

Wakefield declares its Norfolk bid unconditional after gaining 86%

Aug. 18 (BusinessDesk) - Wakefield Health Ltd. has declared its latest takeover bid for Norfolk Investments Ltd. unconditional after gaining 86% acceptances.

The $3.80 per share bid, which valued Norfolk at $24.2 million, was conditional on Wakefield gaining more than 50% acceptances by today. Norfolk owns 60% of the Grace Hospital in Tauranga and Southern Cross Hospitals indirectly holds the other 40%.

Wakefield chief executive Andrew Blair told BusinessDesk he's hopeful the offer will pass the crucial 90% threshold, after which Wakefield can compulsorily acquire the outstanding shares, by the time the bid closes on Sept. 1.

“There's been a steady stream of acceptances almost every day,” Blair said, adding the mail this week has been disrupted by bad weather.

Wakefield, which owns the Wakefield and Bowen hospitals in Wellington, made significant financial gains after completing the takeover of Hastings-based Royston Hospital in early 2006.

Grace Hospital “has a history of year-on-year growth,” Blair said. The demographics of the area, including its aging population, are favourable to the business.

“We expect this acquisition will increasingly contribute significantly to Wakefield's earnings,” he said.

Wakefield isn't done looking for acquisitions, even though the Norfolk one has taken three offers since March last year at higher prices starting from $22.6 million to achieve success.

“We continue to look for other opportunities. We have seen more opportunities in the last 12 months than we have over recent years,” Blair said.

“We still have confidence and expect further consolidation in the private hospital sector is likely and desirable. The fact we've seen more opportunities in recent times perhaps suggests we will see some more activity sooner rather than later.”

Wakefield shares last traded at $4.91 on Monday, just above the year-low at $4.90. They have been trending lower since peaking at $10 in August 2009 following a series of profit disappointments, the latest being a 16.6% slump to $5.1 million in net profit before one-off non-cash tax charges for the year ended March.


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