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Eldercare takes 'elder' out to focus on care

By Deborah Hill

Friday 24th November 2000

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RESTFUL LIVING: New directions for retirement home provider
From oil and debt collection to resthome property to health, Eldercare shareholders never have a dull moment.

The listed company most recently known as a retirement- home provider is expected to make an announcement about its new healthcare direction at its annual meeting today.

The flat property sector had influenced the company's change of direction.

"What we are finding is while interest remains high among people who want to move into assisted living accomodation ... there is an inability to sell their existing homes," Eldercare chief executive Alan Clarke said.

"The problem with respect to property development is the income stream is lumpy by nature."

Eldercare has a colourful background, being reconstructed from penny dreadful New Zealand Petroleum into Eldercare in June last year when shareholders were told it would focus on retirement villages. But at this week's meeting shareholders will hear of a new focus - how the company is pushing ahead into health, the area in which Mr Clarke has experience, coming to the job in April from Australian healthcare company SGS, with involvement in pathology and radiology.

Mr Clarke said health was the second-biggest area of spending in this country after tourism. He said Australia's health index which tracked listed healthcare companies had outperformed the All Ordinaries index by a factor of three to one. In New Zealand Mr Clarke said Eldercare, Metlifecare and Ryman Healthcare were wrongly viewed as property companies because they happened to be selling property developments to "seniors" but they had a wider scope.

This week Eldercare sold its 2.5% stake in debt collection agency RMG for $3.7 million.

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