Industry eyes US equity giant Blackstone Group’s NZ retirement operator Arena Living

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Retirement industry businesses are reportedly eyeing US private equity multinational Blackstone Group’s ownership of New Zealand retirement village operator Arena Living, with six locations.

The Blackstone Group, which has total assets of US$26.27 billion, bought Lendlease Group’s portfolio of five New Zealand retirement villages (Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Parklane and Peninsula Club in Auckland and Ocean Shores in Mt Maunganui) for an undisclosed sum, said to be around $100 million, in February 2016 and created Arena Living. It bought the 38 apartments Mt Eden Gardens, also in Auckland, in January 2018.

The Financial revue reports Arena net assets at NZ$212M.

Arena Living CEO Richard Davis said when announcing the acquisition of Mt Eden Gardens that it had modernised the five other villages.

“When Blackstone purchased Lend Lease’s five retirement villages in 2016, the intention was to create a standalone New Zealand-based business committed to delivering world class senior living. We have transformed the management of the five original villages, alongside a continual programme of investment and improvements,” he said.

New Zealand and Australia’s retirement sector has been seen as an attractive investment opportunity as the baby boomer generation enters retirement age and underpins demand for retirement and aged care facilities.

Blackstone’s Global President and Chief Operating Officer, Jon Gray, last month revealed plans to expand its presence in Australia, creating a corporate debt team as early as next year and deepening its relationships with the $3.3 trillion superannuation sector.

However, AFR predicts that Blackstone Group has suitors Arena Living, from players such as Metlifecare, bought by EQT Infrastructure this time last year, to the NZX-listed Ryman Healthcare, Summerset Group, Oceania Healthcare and Arvida Group.