Oceania Healthcare's cornerstone shareholder Macquarie Group sold its 41 per cent stake in the company for $301.4 million.

The 251 million shares were sold for $1.20 a share in an underwritten sell-down., a 4 per cent discount to the last close of $1.25 on the NZX. Oceania shares' net asset backing at Nov. 30 was $1.15.

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The transaction was fully underwritten with the shares sold to a range of New Zealand and Australian institutional investors, and New Zealand retail investors, Oceania Healthcare said in a statement. "Following settlement of the sale, OHHL will not hold any shares in OCA."

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Grant Williamson, director of Hamilton Hindin Greene, said the market had been primed for the sale, which had been signalled by Macquarie investors

"I think it is going to create liquidity in the Oceania Healthcare market and, in the bigger picture, it will be very, very good."

He noted, however, it might limit the upside in the share price in the short term "as it's a lot for the market to digest, although it also shows the market is still very hungry for additional stock."

The shares have risen from $1.08 on Nov. 19, the day before fellow retirement village operator Metlifecare announced it had received a non-binding takeover offer for its business. They touched a recent high of $1.39 on December 30.

Regardless, "I think Macquarie investors will be very happy with what they have received," he said.

Oceania Healthcare provides and develops residential aged care and retirement village services in New Zealand. Net profit for the six months ended November rose to $14.9 million from $1.3 million in the same six months a year earlier.

- BusinessDesk