Assura calls for clarity on 200 proposed NHS medical centres

Assura, the publicly listed Warrington-based primary care investor-developer, spent nearly £50m on medical centres in the third quarter of its financial year to the end of December, the company said in a trading update.

Assura completed the acquisition of 22 medical centres for £48.8m with a passing rent roll of £2.5m and a weighted average unexpired lease length of 13.8 years.

The company said it had a further pipeline of individual asset acquisitions and developments currently in solicitors’ hands worth approximately £103m. Assura now owns 385 medical centres with a total annualised rent roll of £72.7m (30 September 2016: £70.1m), with growth in the financial year to date driven by acquisitions. The weighted average annual rent increase was 1.72% on the basis of 84 reviews settled in the nine months to 31 December 2016, of which open market rent reviews were 1.15%.

The quarterly dividend was increased by 9% for the January 2017 payment to 0.6p/share, or 2.4p/share on an annualised basis.

The NHS has identified 200 new build primary care schemes for investment under the Estates & Technology Transformation Fund as part of its plans to support the increase in services available in the primary care setting.

Jonathan Murphy, interim chief executive, said: “Assura made good progress in the third quarter, completing further investment activity and delivering improved primary care space into the market. The long-term solution to the challenges facing the NHS is widely agreed to include more healthcare being provided in the primary care sector, by GPs. This in turn will require investment in GP premises. We are pleased that the Government has shown its support for this by the ETTF. Firm timetables and funding to turn these plans into reality are now essential if the benefits to the NHS are to be achieved within the five-year timeframe of the GP Forward View.”

At 30 September 2016, Assura’s property portfolio was valued at £1.2bn.

Shares in Assura edged up 1p to 53p in early trading.

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