Abano to acquire stake in merged Australasian audiology business

Abano Healthcare Group has today exercised the option to acquire, on a 50:50 basis with interests associated with Peter Hutson, an aggregate 13 percent stake in the merged Bay Audiology/National Hearing Care audiology business to be formed on completion of the sale of Bay Audiology to National Hearing Care (New Zealand) Limited. The total investment cost of NZ$30 million is to be met as to 50% each by Abano and the Hutson interests.

The option is part of a transaction which has seen Abano and the Hutson Interests sell the Bay Audiology New Zealand business to National Hearing Care, a company associated with Crescent Capital Partners, for NZ$157.8 million.

Chair of Abano, Alison Paterson, said: “The investment into the new merged Bay Audiology and National Hearing Care entity provides Abano with an interest in a sizeable trans-Tasman business, in an industry and market we know well, but diversifies and reduces risk at the same time.

“It allows us to continue to benefit from the Bay New Zealand business while reducing our exposure to one market. This investment is expected to provide attractive returns for Abano and our shareholders, as well as offering strategic options moving forward.”

Abano’s share of the exercise price will be funded from the proceeds of the sale of Bay Audiology New Zealand and settlement is conditional on and contemporaneous with the settlement of the Bay Audiology sale, expected to occur on 2 November 2009.

As a part of the transaction, Abano and the Hutson Interests will appoint an independent director onto the Board of National Hearing Care.