Healthcare property group Assura said yesterday it has raised more than £300m using equity placings as it seeks to expand its portfolio of GP surgeries and health centres.
The listed-company, which develops, owns and manages healthcare facilities that are then leased back to local NHS organisations or GPs, has raised gross proceeds of £309m through a firm placing, open offer and offer for subscription.
It plans to use around £125m of the proceeds to fund acquisitions and developments, with the rest being used to reduce its debt, bringing down the group’s loan-to-value ratio to 35 per cent.
As one of the country’s largest healthcare property specialists, Assura hopes to benefit from government plans to ease pressure on A&E departments by shifting more services to GP practices in the community.
In December last year, the previous coalition government pledged to invest more in GP premises by launching a £1bn Primary Care Infrastructure Fund – of which more than two thirds has yet to be spent.
Assura’s chief executive Graham Roberts believes that increasing demand from Britain’s ageing population will further put pressure on current facilities, driving demand for more sites.
According to industry figures, there are 4.2m people aged over 75 in England and this age group has twice as many GP consultations as the average person.
“Investing in primary care infrastructure is a recognised priority for the NHS and the support from so many institutions in this fund raise sends a clear message that long term investors want to participate in this significant endeavour,” Roberts said.
The company plans to propose a 10 per cent hike in the quarterly to dividend to 0.55p following the placing. At the proposed offer price of 50p per share, this would provide a dividend yield of 4.4 per cent, it said.
Shares in Assura edged down 0.73p to 54.35p last night.