Primary care property investor and developer Assura continued its strong growth in the first half and announced that finance director Jonathan Murphy has been appointed as interim chief executive in addition to his current role.
Assura says it has made further progress in the first half of the year acquiring and developing assets in line with the plan outlined at the time of its October 2015 equity fundraising.
During the period ti the end of Seprtember, Assura completed the acquisition of 41 medical centres for a gross consideration of £81 million with a passing rent roll of £4.9 million and a weighted average unexpired lease length of 13.5 years. In addition, two developments were completed with a valuation of £13.8 million and a passing rent roll of £0.7 million. Assura has a further pipeline of individual asset acquisitions and developments currently in solicitors' hands worth £114 million.
Assura now owns 363 medical centres with a total annualised rent roll of £70.0 million (31 March 2016: £63.8 million), with growth in the financial year to date driven primarily by acquisitions.
Furthermore, Assura is maximising income through active asset management; the letting of vacant space has been a particular focus in the first half with £0.4 million in new lettings secured in the period. The weighted average annual rent increase was 1.60% on the basis of 64 reviews settled in the first half, of which open market rent reviews were 1.11%. Assura has signed agreements with Pricoa Capital Group and MetLife to issue unsecured ten-year notes for a total of £100 million. The issue will be Assura's first in the US private placement market and enhances the company's capacity for further investment through a new source of long-term funding at an attractive rate. The notes are at a fixed rate of 2.65% and the unsecured funding increases operational flexibility and reduces transaction costs associated with financing properties. The funds will be drawn on 13 October 2016.
On 18 May 2016 Assura agreed a new £200 million revolving credit facility on an unsecured basis to replace the previous facility. The initial margin was 150 basis points, which was a reduction of 20 basis points from the previous facility. Undrawn facilities, excluding the new notes referred to above, currently stand at £75 million.
At 30 September 2016, Assura's borrowings stood at £447.2 million, with a weighted average cost of debt of 4.30% (31 March 2016: 4.84%) and a weighted average debt maturity of 8.6 years. At the same date, Assura's proforma net loan to value ratio was 36% (31 March 2016: 30%), below the medium term LTV range of 40% to 50%.
The group also said the search process to appoint a new CEO for Assura is ongoing and Murphy, currently the finance director, has been appointed interim CEO to lead the business through this time as well as continuing with his responsibilities as FD.
Andrew Darke, property director, has also been appointed to the board, retaining responsibility for the property operations and developments. Simon Laffin, who has been executive chairman since March, will revert to his non-executive role.