A mystery bidder has made a play for one of the country’s biggest retirement village operators.

Metlifecare said it received a “highly conditional, non-binding preliminary expression of interest from a credible third party” to acquire the company.

The company said it has started talks with the unidentified bidder.

“The price proposed is below the board’s expectations on value for the company.”

Metlifecare operates 25 villages with more than 4,000 beds, mostly in Auckland and the Bay of Plenty, with development plans for another 10, although it had slowed the pace of development to take account of the slower Auckland property market.

Its profit for the year ended June was $39 million, which was down on the previous year as growth in property values slowed and it wrote down the value of some assets.

However, stripping out the valuation changes and one-offs, the underlying profit rose nearly 4 percent to $90.5m.

The company’s assets are valued at $3.5 billion.

“There can be no certainty at this stage that these discussions will result in any transaction,” the company said.

Metlifecare shares surged 12 percent to a one year high on the news.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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