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The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) is buying a 50-per-cent stake in New Zealand medical laboratory testing company Asia Pacific Healthcare Group (APHG), the latest of several investments targeting the health-care industry.

The acquisition, in partnership with New Zealand’s largest public-sector pension fund, comes in a booming time for medical testing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Teachers has previously invested in companies such as U.S.-based Heartland Dental and PhyMed Healthcare Group. Earlier this year, OTPP led the latest round of funding for KRY, one of Europe’s largest digital health-care providers, which closed at US$155-million in January. Last year, it invested in Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Verily, a California-based life sciences research organization.

Teachers, which had a total of $207.4-billion in net assets at the end of 2019, manages the pensions of 329,000 active and retired educators in Ontario.

APHG is owned by Healthscope, an Australian private healthcare provider, and serves 75 per cent of New Zealand’s population. Its 25 laboratories have been deeply active in providing COVID-19 testing for the country, which has been heralded for its aggressive and successful response to the disease.

The total sale, valued at more than NZ$550-million, or about $485-million, is expected to finalize in the next six months, pending approval from New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office. The New Zealand Superannuation Fund, a government pension fund, is buying the other 50-per-cent stake in APHG.

Currently a part of Healthscope’s larger health care system, APHG will become an independent business under the new ownership.

“We are excited about the opportunity to invest in APHG alongside our partner the NZ Super Fund and working together with the company as it transitions to a standalone entity,” Ben Chan, OTPP’s Asia Pacific regional managing director, said in a press release on Tuesday.

Teachers has an extensive track record of investing in leading health-care businesses, Mr. Chan said. “We look forward to putting this expertise to work to help support APHG’s next stage of growth while ensuring they continue delivering world-class pathology services to New Zealanders.”

Stephen Gilmore, NZ Super Fund’s chief investment officer, said the value of excellent health-care and pathology services is more apparent than ever now.

An OTPP plan to acquire New Zealand dental company Abano Healthcare for NZ$150-million (about $130-million) alongside Australian private equity firm BGH Capital fell through in March, after dental clinics had to close temporarily because of the pandemic. OTPP also has a timber business based in New Zealand called OTPP New Zealand Forest Investments Ltd.

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