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Four Seasons in new debt talks

9th February 2012

Four Seasons, the UK’s largest care home provider, is in talks to raise funding to pay its debts of £780m.

Old Hands

The company, which bought a number of Southern Cross properties, has to pay back that amount by September but fears it will not be able to raise that from lenders.

As a result, it is now in talks to attract new investment of up to £250m and early signs are that negotiations are going well, according to Four Seasons, which employs 30,000 staff across 500 properties with 20,000 residents.

Chief executive Peter Calveley hopes a deal can be reached by March and has said that even if the financial markets deteriorate, it will not close any homes.

He added: “We've had much more debt than this before, and we carried on operating successfully through that.”

Four Seasons may call on existing investors, including the state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, to increase its stake, potentially leaving the taxpayer with majority-ownership of the UK’s largest care home group.

However, the GMB union has raised concerns over the situation.

Justin Bowden from the GMB said: “Four Seasons are on a treadmill of debt, continually refinancing, taking on more debt and paying out tens of millions of pounds in fees to advisers. How long can this carry on until their debt bubble bursts?”

In recent years, Four Seasons has expanded. It took on around 140 Southern Cross homes, in addition to the 40 it already owned and also bought mental health group Care Principles from Barclays Capital.

 

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