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Nuffield Health secures £330m of funds to fuel expansion

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Nuffield Health has signed £330m of debt facilities as the charity bids to widen its footprint in the UK health club market as part of a push towards integrated care pathways.

The business secured the funds – from a combination of banks and institutional lenders – to further its strategic development plans for an integrated approach to fitness, prevention and cure, across hospitals, consumer and corporate fitness, and wellbeing markets.

The expansion seems to be gathering pace with Nuffield taking over nine former Virgin Active health clubs in August – five of which are sited within five miles of Nuffield hospitals. It has also announced a strategic partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, which will see construction of a major facility in central Manchester, incorporating a state of the art hospital, wellbeing and rehabilitation services.

A Nuffield spokesperson confirmed that the new funds would be used to aid expansion, while the company’s deputy chief executive KP Doyle told Leisure Opportunities in a recent interview that more health club takeovers were likely, particularly in the capital.

Doyle said after the Virgin acquisitions: “We’ll certainly be looking at more deals like this, particularly in markets where we’re underrepresented like London, where we want to boost overall integrated wellness offerings, with more diagnostic facilities as well.”

Nuffield has since followed up on this by reopening its London City flagship gym in September, following a £1.9m redevelopment of the 80,000sq ft (7,432sq m) facility. The new-look gym – which took nearly three months to complete – will operate in harmony with the in-house medical centre, which provides health assessments, physiotherapy and full GP services.

Under the new financing arrangement, lead institutional investors Pricoa Capital Group and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company have provided long-term fixed-rate loans of 10 and 12 years to the charity. Under these terms, Nuffield Health still retains control of its freehold asset base, providing it with long-term security and flexibility. Meanwhile, existing bank lenders Barclays, RBS and Santander were joined by HSBC and Siemens Financial Services and provided seven-year committed bank facilities.

“Receiving investment from a mix of banks and institutional lenders is a first for Nuffield Health, and follows on from the launch of our retail bond last year,” said Nuffield Health chief financial officer Greg Hyatt.

“As a result, we have been able to secure a diversified lending base and long-term debt funding. By providing this strong refinancing package, our lenders have shown great confidence in our ability to deliver our strategy to help people get healthy and stay healthy.”

An exclusive interview with Dr Andrew Jones on Nuffield’s expansion plans can be read in the May edition of Health Club Management magazine, pp. 34-38.

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Nuffield Health has signed £330m of debt facilities as the charity bids to widen its footprint in the UK health club market as part of a push towards integrated care pathways.
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