Southern Cross to close and break up

BANKRUPT care home operator Southern Cross admitted it was to shut down yesterday after the owners of its 752 homes walked away from negotiations.

Shares in Southern Cross were suspended after it said its landlords would take control of the homes and it would cease business.

The shock move surprised some who believed the landlords would need Southern Cross to manage the provision of care.

“It is currently envisaged that the existing group will cease to be an operator of homes at the end of the restructuring period,” the company said.

Brewin Dolphin analyst Sahill Shan said the outcome left virtually nothing for shareholders. “This landlord outcome is much worse than we feared,” he said.

Chief executive Jamie Buchan (pictured) said the move should end the uncertainty that has affected the company for months. “We regret the loss of value which shareholders have experienced,” he said.

Southern Cross said care operators such as Four Seasons and Bondcare owned a third of its homes and would take over their running. The remaining 500 homes face a less secure future, with some industry sources expecting landlords such as NHP to run them.

A Four Seasons spokesman said it did not expect to take over running other homes for the remaining landlords, but it was “not something we would rule out”.