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Monday, 01 September 2014

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New owners for Cumbrian care homes

Three Cumbrian care homes will be affected by the high-profile takeover of Four Seasons Health Care.

The company – which owns homes in Carlisle, Whitehaven and Maryport – is being bought by private equity group Terra Firma.

The group, chaired by Guy Hands, has agreed an £825 million debt and equity deal.

It will mean Blackwell Vale Care Home in Durdar Road, Harbour View Care Home in Bransty Road and Riverside Court in Irish Street will all be under new ownership.

Four Seasons, which runs about 445 care homes across the UK, has been struggling with large debts.

A debt-for-equity swap with Royal Bank of Scotland saw the bank take a 40 per cent stake in the company in return for a near halving of the debt mountain. The new deal, expected to be completed before July 16, is expected to clear all remaining debts.

Mr Hands, founder, chairman and chief investment officer at Terra Firma, is perhaps best known for his failed investment in British music company EMI.

He said: “Our number one priority is to ensure that Four Seasons delivers consistent high-quality care and peace of mind for residents, service users and families.”

However the GMB union, which represents staff at Four Seasons, is now seeking urgent meetings with government ministers and Terra Firma bosses. The move will affect 45 north west care homes, including those in Cumbria.

Paul McCarthy, the GMB’s regional secretary for the north west, said: “So after all the denials and disinformation, the troubled Four Seasons care homes have been flogged on to Terra Firma.

“The 20,000 residents and their families and 30,000 staff will need urgent assurances from the Government, Mr Hands and Terra Firma for a stable future.

Mr Hands added: “Terra Firma is committed to further investment in the business to achieve long-term sustainable growth.”

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