Metlifecare asks court to enforce $1.46bn EQT buyout, scrapped by firm over coronavirus

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New Zealand’s Metlifecare has asked the country’s high court to enforce EQT’s $1.46bn buyout of the business, which the private equity house scrapped last month saying coronavirus had triggered a release clause.

EQT had agreed a NZ$7 per share deal for the retirement village business in January through Asia Pacific Village Group (APVG), a company owned by the EQT Infrastructure IV fu

The company’s board has filed a statement of claim in the court to challenge the validity of APVG’s notice to terminate the deal, with more than a third of company shareholders confirming support for the action.

They include The Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, the Accident Compensation Corporation and overseas-based investors Maso Capital, Omni Partners and Westchester Capital.

Metlifecare Chairman Kim Ellis said, “We welcome the support of our major shareholders for court action we should never have been forced to take.

“Like them, the board of Metlifecare remains strongly committed to the successful completion of the scheme and hopes this matter can be resolved quickly and equitably for the benefit of Metlifecare and its shareholders.”

EQT informed Metlifecare on April 7 that the Covid-19 crisis had triggered a ‘material adverse change’ clause – either reducing the company’s net tangible assets by at least $100m, or likely to reduce its underlying net profit by at least 10% in any of the next three financial years.

EQT raised a hefty €9bn for the one-and-done final close of its fourth infrastructure fund in March last year.

The firm’s infrastructure arm typically targets investments in the energy, transport & logistics, telecom, environmental and social infrastructure sectors.

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