Assura completes REIT conversion

Warrington-based healthcare property landlord Assura Group started life as a real estate investment trust on Tuesday and celebrated by promising greater dividends for shareholders.

Assura said in a brief statement to the London Stock Exchange: "Further to the resolution passed at the company's extraordinary general meeting on 15 February, which amended the company's articles of association, Assura…today confirms that it has elected for REIT status with effect from 1 April 2013.

"The regime provides Assura with a number of tax efficiencies, access to a global specialist investor base and is consistent with our commitment to a progressive dividend policy."

The first new quarterly dividend, for the period from 1 January to 31 March 2013, will be increased to 0.3025 pence per share, equivalent to 1.21 pence per share on an annualised basis. The dividend will be paid on 24 April 2013 to shareholders on the register on 12 April 2013.

The original 2% cost of converting to a REIT was removed by government under the Finance Act 2012. REITs can treat rental income differently for tax purposes, moving revenue from corporate to investor level.

Shares in Assura edged up 0.5p to 36p in early trading.

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