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Ryman looks to make Australian play

Thursday 29th July 2010

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Ryman Healthcare, the Christchurch-headquartered aged care operator, is looking for a suitable site for its first Australian village, shareholders were told at today’s annual general meeting.

The NZX listed company, which has 21 villages with 4,400 units or rooms in New Zealand, has been carefully studying the Australian market for several years, said chairman David Kerr.

“We see it as the next logical step in the growth of the company,” he said.

“The Ryman model will be relatively unique in the Australian market.”

Ryman’s aged care starts with independent living and graduates to serviced apartments, rest home and hospital care, as well as dementia care in some of its villages. This model is not that common among aged care providers in New Zealand and even less so in Australia said its executive director, Simon Challies.

“That full spectrum is relatively unique,” Challies said.

“We plan to adopt a similar model in Australia that we have in New Zealand and adapt the model as we learn.”

Challies said that Ryman is in a strong financial position, and initially should be able to construct the new Australian village out of its current earnings.

Rymans’ growth plans include the opening of at least 450 new units or rooms per year, it is currently building on eight New Zealand sites and recently purchased new Christchurch and Tauranga sites. It serves over 5,000 elderly New Zealanders and employs over 2,500 staff.

The company recently announced an end of March 2010 profit of $61 million and lifted its annual dividend 16% to 6.1 cents a share.

“We are ahead of last year and we are on track to achieve our medium term target of 15% growth in realized profits for the full year,” Kerr said.

The number of kiwis aged 75 or over is expected to rise to 516,000 from 250,000 over the next 20 years.

Today its share price is steady at $2.04 cents each.

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