A Tauranga developer who grew up "in the poorest house on the poorest street" has sold a portfolio of his retirement villages for about $180 million.
Fraser Sanderson is selling Bethlehem Country Club and Bethlehem Shores in Tauranga and the Queenstown Country Club to retirement home operator Arvida Group.
Sanderson and his family held hands before he announced the sale to residents at Bethlehem Shores yesterday.
"The Bethlehem villages represent a pinnacle of my life's work," Sanderson said.
"It is quite an emotional time for me. It was a hard decision for me to make. I have left a legacy behind."
But the 63-year-old said now was the right time to sell.
"I realised the only way I am ever going to be able to retire is to sell and to separate myself completely from my life's work."
Sanderson has worked hard to be able to retire a multimillionaire. His humble beginnings were in Invercargill.
"I used to live in the poorest house on the poorest street," he said. "We were brought up along the railway line."
Their home had an outside toilet and a coal range to cook on.
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Without a car, the family would ride into town with their father by bicycle - Sanderson and his twin brother perched on each handlebar and their sister on the back.
"Our upbringing was very poor," Sanderson said. "But my parents, as poor as they were, wanted the very best for us."
Sanderson said his mother worked hard to be able to send him and his twin brother to a private school in Palmerston North. But the brothers had to hitchhike back home.
"It was a two and a half day trip," he said. "At night to get out of the weather, we would hide in telephone booths."
He remembers standing in the middle of the Canterbury Plains in the freezing cold as a boy hoping to catch a ride from a passer-by.
"We would catch a ride separately, it was easier that way. I remember being so cold and hungry," he said.
In that moment, Sanderson made a promise to work hard in search of a better life.
He got stuck in mowing people's lawns for pocket money, did paper runs and painted roofs.
"I would tie a rope to my waist and the chimney and with my paintbrush and bucket I would go and paint roofs," he said.
"I was determined to never be poor, hungry and cold again."
Sanderson trained to become a radiographer and later moved to Australia where he worked at a hospital before meeting his first wife and moving to Tauranga.
Sanderson bought his first retirement village - the Omokoroa Country Estate - in 1987 before acquiring Bethlehem Shores, Bethlehem Country Club and the Bethlehem Views, which he has previously sold to the Arvida Group.
The purchase of Bethlehem Shores, Bethlehem Country Club and the Queenstown Country Club will be funded through an underwritten placement of $50 million of shares at $1.25 each.
A total of $92 million will come from a 1-for-5.7 pro-rata renounceable rights offer at an issue price of $1.15 per share. An additional $10 million of new Arvida shares will be issued to the vendors at market price and there will be $32 million of bank debt.
The villages are being acquired in an off-market transaction from interests controlled by Fraser Sanderson.
Completion of the acquisition is expected to happen on July 31, subject to customary closing conditions.
"The acquisitions align with our strategy to own quality villages of scale. We now look forward to realising the potential of the development pipeline and introducing a continuum of care," Arvida chairman Peter Wilson said.
"The villages have been built to a high standard and represent an opportunity to acquire a portfolio of significant scale and quality in prime locations," chief executive Bill McDonald said.
Sanderson said the new clubhouse at Bethlehem Shores had set a new benchmark for retirement living in New Zealand and was involved in the planning stages of a new building at the village.
"I endeavoured to improve the quality of care in New Zealand and I feel I have achieved what I set out to do," he said.
"These villages represent the pinnacle of my life's work," he said. "It was important I found a safe pair of hands to look after them and my residents."