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Healthy profit for medical fund

by Tim Sharp on Sep 27, 2006 at 07:00

One of Neil Woodford’s favoured property holdings, the Guernsey-domiciled investment company the Medical Property Investment fund, is to transform itself into a straightforward UK plc.

Citywire AAA-rated Woodford, who runs income funds for Invesco Perpetual (INVESCO PERPETUAL Income Inc) , holds close to a fifth of shares in the company (MPF), which was established by chief executive Richard Burrell in November 2003.

After a bumper set of results which saw profit for the first six months of the year quadruple to £13.3 million compared to 2005, it is to rebrand itself Assura Group in acknowledgement of its non-property interests.

Three business divisions will come under the Assura umbrella: Assura Property, Assura Pharmacy and Assura Medical.

The core of the company remains the property arm which refurbishes and builds new GP surgeries and rents them out to doctors. It takes advantage of government enthusiasm for primary care facilities that embrace pharmacies, dental surgeries and other health facilities as well as basic medical practices.

Burrell said: ‘The company’s property will continue to be held in a Guernsey subsidiary so it will enjoy all the benefits of Guernsey tax status.’

He added that it was unlikely to switch immediately onshore once real estate investment trusts are introduced in the UK next year.

But the company has already started expanding its reach beyond the core property business which has so far committed £385 million to 112 sites.

Back in May it bought its management company Berrington, which also runs the Westbury Property fund.

Assura is planning to expand its pharmacy wing, which currently has four outlets, to at least 20 by the end of 2007. The medical division has established four pilot projects in collaboration with GPs serving around 300,000 patients to expand their services.

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