Metlifecare has hired Jarden to help with the unsolicited and what it calls unsatisfactory offer, despite describing the offeror as a credible buyer.

The retirement village operator and developer hired Jarden to advise it and has set up various working groups within the company, it said in a statement. Metlifecare said it didn't anticipate another update for at least the next two weeks.

Last week, Metlifecare said it suspended its $30 million share buyback programme and started talking to the bidder. It said it received a highly conditional, non-binding expression of interest, at a price below the board's expectations. The shares closed at $5.80 yesterday.

The indicative offer emerged a day after Metlifecare's shares experienced their busiest trading day in more than two-and-a-half years, due to a single trade of 3.62 million shares at $5.05, which was a discount to the $5.18 price the shares had been trading at. That amounted to about 1.6 per cent of Metlifecare's stock on issue and was the most activity since April 2017 when Infratil sold its then 19 per cent stake at $5.61 a share.

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Metlifecare kicked off the share buyback in an attempt to lift the price of its shares, which have persistently traded at a discount to their net tangible asset value of $6.96.

Any would-be bidder has to win over the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and ANZ New Zealand Investments for a takeover to succeed, with the institutions holding blocking stakes of 19.8 per cent and 11.8 per cent respectively. Other substantial shareholders include Investment Services Group with 6.4 per cent and ACC at 5 per cent.