Assura to raise £190m after reporting 58% profit increase

The Warrington-based healthcare developer and investor said it would use the equity raise to fund further acquisitions in its interim results report for the six months ended 30 September 2021.

Pre-tax profit has jumped from £43.8m in 2020 to £69.4m this year, thanks to an increase in net rental income and a growing portfolio. Assura has a development pipeline of £480m with £72m-worth of projects currently on site.

“With our development side of the business, we have never been busier,” Assura chief executive Jonathan Murphy told Place North West, adding that the company is responding to NHS enquiries on a regular basis.

The equity sale reflects an “ordinary course level of investment” according to Murphy. “The only way we can continue to grow consistently is to raise more equity from time to time,” he said.

Murphy said that the company had already received expressions of interest that exceed the target raise.

Of the £190m Assura hopes to raise, the majority will be spent on acquisitions. The company aims to purchase more than 100 properties in the next few years. Murphy said that those new properties will have to meet the company’s sustainability criteria or, at least, be capable of reaching EPC B quickly.

Most of those acquisitions are not, however in the North West.

“We are always looking for new opportunities in the North West, but it’s a matter of where the requirements are for the NHS,” Murphy said.

The money will also go towards the company’s improvement plan, which is ramping up as it pushes to retrofit its properties. Assura has committed to having nearly all of its properties at EPC B level by 2026.

“We’ve got four years and three months,” Murphy said. “It’s a very ambitious target.”

It is also working on developing a net zero design guide with the help of a group of advisors that includes Manchester-based Civic Engineers.

Prioritising sustainability will characterise Assura’s future as it pushes to have a net zero in-operation portfolio by 2030.

“I think this will give us a competitive advantage – the fact we’re going early and going hard in this area,” Murphy said.

Assura aims to position itself as experts in sustainable healthcare development, which Murphy said will not only be good for the environment but make the company more attractive to the NHS. Assura’s work in sustainability will also help push the North West as a hub for green skills, Murphy said.

Assura’s share price was down three pence the morning of the interim report announcement.

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