Owen Hembry

Business news editor of the New Zealand Herald

Auckland fertility firm expands

The fertility market in NZ is worth as much as $35 million. Photo / Thinkstock
The fertility market in NZ is worth as much as $35 million. Photo / Thinkstock

A Christchurch fertility clinic associated with MediaWorks private equity owner Ironbridge Capital has been taken over by Auckland-headquartered Fertility Associates.

Fertility Associates said it was taking over the Repromed fertility business in Christchurch after a decision to withdraw from the New Zealand market by its part-owner Repromed Australia.

Repromed Australia is owned by a company called Healthbridge, which in turn is part owned by Ironbridge.

Fertility Associates chief executive Alex Price said the fertility market in New Zealand was worth about $30 million to $35 million annually.

"We've seen probably things slow down a little bit with the economy over the last 12 months or so," Price said.

"I think that's partly because the way I see it is that starting a family is essentially a vote of optimism in the future but if you're a little bit uncertain about, 'Will I still have a job next year or are we going to have quite enough money to start a family?' ... some people may be delaying starting a family which has impact a little bit on market growth," he said.

"But the underlying trend is for an increasing number of people to seek fertility treatment because the age that New Zealand couples have their child is increasing."

The fertility of women starts declining after 35 years of age.

A large part of the reason to move into Christchurch was to get bigger scale, Price said. "Information technology is becoming more and more important and that's expensive," he said.

"And then we have people like a scientific director for example who leads a lot of our research effort and also the innovation that we're doing and those people are not cheap."

Fertility Associates has locations in Auckland, North Shore, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, and hold regular clinics in other major North Island centres and Nelson.

IVF clinics typically sell for several million dollars.

Chairman Richard Fisher said the company's investment was a commitment to the future of Christchurch and an endorsement of its views on the quality of the staff at Repromed in that city.

"We are delighted to be able to have a role in the delivery of high-quality medical care which Canterbury and the other DHBs in the upper South Island already provide."

As part of the process Greg Phillipson, a principal at the Christchurch practice, will become a shareholder in Fertility Associates.

Phillipson said: "Fertility Associates has alliances with leading research organisations such as the Liggins Institute and the Universities of Auckland and Victoria, we are delighted that our patients and staff will have the wonderful opportunities that this association can bring."

- NZ Herald

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