AWF expands healthcare holdings, acquiring NNZ

Listed company AWF Group is continuing its expansive healthcare acquisitions with the purchase of South Island healthcare provider Nursing New Zealand, which provides a wide range of services across Otago, Southland and Canterbury.

Nursing New Zealand, which was bought yesterday by AWF's subsidiary Panacea Healthcare for an undisclosed price, is a major provider of community nursing and serious injury care to ACC and provides Occupational Health Services throughout the three southern provinces.

AWF, known previously as Allied Work Force, is one of two labour suppliers announced last week by Ports of Auckland to be providing replacement staff for almost 300 sacked Maritime Union of New Zealand workers, but the outcome of a pending Employment Court hearing has briefly suspended the bitter and escalating dispute.

Shares in AWF, which during the past year have been at a low of $1.45 and high of $2.30, yesterday remained unchanged at $2.20 after the announcement.

AWF managing director and founder Simon Hull said the acquisition of NNZ, effective from the beginning of April, would retain its management team and the company was expected to add $5 million revenue for 2012-13 financial period and would be earnings-positive.

Craigs Investment Partners broker Peter McIntyre said that AWF had a good geographical spread across several sectors around the country; quietly "flying under the radar" while it made acquisitions.

"They have a proven history of several positive acquisitions which the market look on favourably," he said.

Mr McIntyre said AWF shares had risen in a "steady trajectory" from May 2010, from 68c to about $2.20, and it had been one of the more successful listed companies recovering from the recession and global financial crisis.

In its six months trading to September last year, financial guidance by AWF noted sales growth for the half year of 35% , up to $54.8 million, revealed the group was "on track to well exceed $100 million, this financial year, for the first time".

In mid-October 2010, AWF acquired 30-year-old specialist healthcare provider Panacea Healthcare Ltd, which provided ACC-funded home and community support services certified care for the disabled and elderly and nursing services in the Auckland and Central North Island areas.

Also purchased was recruitment agency Tradeforce NZ.

Panacea went on to con-tribute about $7 million in revenue during the six months after its acquisition.

In September 2010, AWF acquired a 75% interest in a Waihi-based mine-labour provider and formed a new subsidiary, AWF Mourant Ltd; later buying out the previous owners' remaining 25% stake.

"With the South Island added to our already extensive coverage in the North, we move much closer to our goal of full national coverage of our services in these most important healthcare areas," Mr Hull said in a statement yesterday.



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