Graham Roberts Assura

Assura chief exec fighting cancer, business growth continues

Warrington-based healthcare developer Assura announced to the stock market this morning that chief executive, Graham Roberts, is receiving treatment for cancer, reassuring shareholders that he remains “actively involved” in the business.

Simon Laffin, chairman, said: “We have a clear strategy, and Graham is well-supported in delivering this by the first-class management team that he has developed. I shall be available to provide executive oversight if required. We all wish Graham well in his treatment and recovery.”

Alongside the statement on Roberts, Assura released a trading update for the period to 8 February, outlining progress since it completed an equity raise of £300m in October 2015 to fund further acquisitions and developments.

Assura said that the proceeds have been applied in a reduction of long-term debt held by Aviva Commercial Finance by £181m, the temporary repayment of the revolving credit facility of £35m and 12 property additions with a gross value on completion of £39m.

The acquisitions increase the rent roll by £2.3m, with a weighted average unexpired lease term of 21.9 years.

New acquisition and development opportunities continue to be identified at a faster pace than the conversion of heads of terms into contractual completion. As a result, Assura’s immediate pipeline of opportunities has risen to £135m from the £125m announced in October.

The annualised rent roll is now £61.8m, up from £59.6m in September 2015, with growth driven primarily from acquisitions.

Assura currently has £120m of undrawn facilities and said that it is “well placed to take advantage of the opportunities for further consolidation in our sector”.

Roberts said: “There has been a renewed emphasis from the NHS and politicians recently on addressing the chronic shortage of primary care space in the UK. Assura is ideally placed with the expertise, scale and financial flexibility to support this essential investment in our nation’s primary care infrastructure.”

Shares in Assura this morning dipped by 0.6p to 56.4p.

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