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Abano flags capital return after sale of National Hearing stake

Wednesday 29th September 2010

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Abano Healthcare is mulling options to return capital to shareholders after making a profit on the sale of its stake in Australia's National Hearing Care.

Abano will reap about $26 million cash from the sale of its holding in NHC, which is being sold by Crescent Capital to Amplifon Group for a total of A$460 million. Abano owned 13% jointly with Peter Hutson, the founder of Bay Audiology, which was acquired by NHC. Before repayment of debt and other costs, the stake was worth $58 million.

"Given the size of the capital return from the NHC sale, the board is currently reviewing options to return capital to shareholders, including the previously indicated on-market share buy-back," said managing director Alan Clarke.

The cash proceeds of the NHC sale are expected in late December and any return would be in the New Year, he said.

Some of the money will be used for new investments, such as dental clinics in New Zealand and Australia, audiology in Australia and Asia and radiology in New Zealand, he said.

The shares fell 4 cents to $5.20 yesterday and has fallen 16% this year.

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