Emeritus Co-Founder Bets on China with $250 Million Joint Venture

Senior housing heavyweight Daniel Baty plans to make even bigger waves in the Chinese senior care market—with the help of $250 million in new financing.

Baty, co-founder and former chairman of Emeritus Corp. until its merger with Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) in 2014, also served as the chairman of Holiday Retirement Corp. from 1987 to 2007. This week, Baty’s health care operating company, Seattle-based firm Columbia Pacific Management (CPM), entered into a joint venture to expand its senior living and hospital presence in China.

Founded in 1989, CPM oversees an international health care business that develops and operates clinics, hospitals and senior housing communities throughout China, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Malaysia and Kenya. Baty is CPM’s current chairman.

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In 2011, CPM became the first foreign-owned company granted permission by the Chinese government to build senior living communities in China. Since then, CPM has built two senior living communities in Shanghai and one in Beijing.

On Thursday, CPM announced that Temasek, a state investment firm based in Singapore, has invested approximately $250 million in Columbia China, CPM’s health care arm in China. This will result in a 50/50 joint venture with CPM, according to a press release.

As part of the joint venture with Temasek, CPM plans to build new senior living projects throughout the country, Nate McLemore, the managing director of Columbia Pacific Management, told Senior Housing News.

“We’re absolutely going to do other [senior living] projects in China,” McLemore said. “We have a team of people looking for other projects in cities where we already have [senior living projects], and we’re looking at cities in the Yangtze River Delta where we don’t have projects.”

Columbia China is currently developing a 300-bed senior living community in Ningbo, China, as well as three multi-specialty hospitals with between 300 and 500 beds each in the Chinese cities of Wuxi, Jiaxing and Changzhou. The company already has two multi-specialty clinics and a 220-bed orthopedic hospital in Shanghai.

Though it has never operated memory care in China before—it has stuck to skilled nursing and assisted living—Columbia China is also considering adding memory care units to some of its newer buildings, McLemore said. The demand for memory care is high in the country, as is the demand for senior care in general.

Other U.S.-based senior living players have dipped their toes into Chinese markets, but many remain reluctant. The time may be ripe, however, McLemore said.

“There’s a growing acceptance of the senior care model in China,” McLemore said. “The market demand is catching up, and it’s catching up very quickly.”

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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