The Selwyn Foundation chief executive Garry Smith and Metlifecare chief executive Earl Gasparich. Photo: Supplied

The Swedish-owned corporate care giant will acquire six retirement villages from Christian charity The Selwyn Foundation

A longtime resident of one of the six Selwyn-owned retirement villages to be acquired by Metlifecare found out on Thursday the village was being sold. 

The man who did not want to be named told Newsroom that while he did not oppose the acquisition deal, he was concerned about how the corporation would maintain Selwyn’s culture as a charitable Christian organisation.

“The thing that attracted me is, although I’m now agnostic, I was brought up as a Christian and hold Christian values. They’re not in the business of making a profit for shareholders, they are not rapacious in the way they do their business, which I think Metlifecare might well be,” the man said.

“I don’t know if they will be as caring of residents … I don’t know how they’re going to develop it.”

Metlifecare will purchase Selwyn Park, Selwyn Heights, Selwyn Oaks, Selwyn Wilson Carlile, Selwyn St Andrew’s and Selwyn Sprott villages in Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Cambridge and Wellington. It will also acquire The Selwyn Foundation’s commercial laundry.

Metlifecare reported net profit after tax of $304.4 million – $338.1 million ahead of last year, for the year to June 30, 2021.

The transaction will be funded primarily through equity with some debt contribution, and is due to complete in the first quarter of 2022. It is contingent on approval from the Overseas Investment Office, Ministry of Health and Statutory Supervisor.

In a statement, The Selwyn Foundation chief executive Garry Smith said the sale allowed the charity to increase “charitable giving from $10 million in a decade to $100 million over the next 10 years”.

A spokeswoman for The Selwyn Foundation said Metlifecare was its first choice and aligned best with its “holistic, integrated care and its reputation for being a good employer”. 

“Metlifecare has a strong focus on staff and resident wellbeing and experience, and on putting people at the heart of everything they do. They have a consistently high resident satisfaction rate and an excellent reputation for providing quality care.”

All existing resident contracts would be assigned to Metlifecare as part of the transaction, so there would be no change to the terms and conditions of their occupation right agreements, the charity spokeswoman said.

“We note that Metlifecare has also recently reviewed its standard occupation right agreement, and clauses that were highlighted in the Consumer NZ review have been fully addressed.”

Metlifecare has been approached for comment.

“We hope this purchase doesn’t negatively affect the contracts offered by Selwyn under Metlifecare.”
– Jon Duffy, Consumer NZ

Earlier this year, Consumer NZ found Metlifecare had some unfair clauses in its residents’ contracts as a result of a review of six major players in the retirement industry.

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy says for current and prospective residents of Selwyn, this may be “concerning” if they are offered contracts that have unfair terms.

“We hope this purchase doesn’t negatively affect the contracts offered by Selwyn under Metlifecare.”

Residents of retirement villages have also been calling for an overhaul of the Retirement Villages Act.

A group representing retirement village residents is seeking an urgent review of legislation, presenting a petition signed by 13,000 at Parliament last week.

The Retirement Village Residents Association of New Zealand president Peter Carr said “Right now, the system governing the way we run our retirement sector was penned in the interests of companies running retirement villages, not the rights and interests of the people living in them.

“As New Zealand moves to support the largest generation yet into retirement, the Government has an opportunity to ensure the rules governing the sector are fit for purpose.”

Carr said it would take several months after residents moved out of their units to have the initial payment returned and should be changed to a 28-day period. This was because villages only paid out the amounts after the apartments had been refurbished and sold.

The Selwyn Foundation spokeswoman said: “We understand that Metlifecare supports the blueprint produced by the Retirement Villages Association in May 2021 and that it is working with the Commission for Financial Capability to monitor re-licensing times so best practice standards can be developed.”

Retirement Villages Association executive director John Collyns says a 28-day repayment period upon the termination of an occupation rights agreement was “unworkable”.

“Most New Zealanders would understand it is impossible to even renovate a property, which already requires capital, within 28 days.

“The reality is resale times are currently not excessive and a better approach would be to look to address these isolated instances than throw out the whole model.”

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