Nestor blow to Acromas home help chain plans

Plans from the owner of over-50s holidays giant Saga and the AA motoring group to build a national home help chain were set back yesterday after bid target Nestor Healthcare rejected a £102 million approach.

Acromas - formed through the 2007 merger of Saga and the AA - has bought two other firms providing healthcare services at home and is in talks over several more deals.

The company said buying Nestor will speed up its strategy to build a national branded business in a growing but fragmented market, as people live longer but want to stay at home. Firms currently provide about three million hours of social care a week at home.

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Nestor said the approach "materially undervalued" the business, which also runs a range of health services including NHS walk-in health centres, dentists, and criminal vetting services for would-be care workers.

Shares in Nestor rose 10.6 per cent yesterday on confirmation of the bid approach although Acromas signalled it may not be deterred in its pursuit, saying it had a "high regard for the business and management".

Recent results from Nestor showed pre-tax profits for the six months to 30 June almost doubling to 5.5m on revenues 4 per cent ahead at 77.9m.

The group's social care arm - which accounts for some three-quarters of revenues and has 90 branches in the UK - was the best performer as higher workloads and the ditching of unprofitable contracts offset pressure on local authority budgets.

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