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A high-powered list of corporate players are helping to supervise an investment trust's acquisition of Canadian retirement home chain Central Park Lodges Ltd., while also enabling the Reichmann family to reduce its exposure to the senior care business.

Burdened by rapid expansion and heavy debt load, privately held Central Park Lodges is looking now to tap the stock market through the newly created investment trust, in an effort to shore up its finances and possibly continue to grow.

"Going forward, if they want to become bigger and they think this is a multidecade growth industry, they've got to raise additional equity," said one company watcher familiar with the deal.

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Former Ontario premier Bill Davis, now counsel at Toronto law firm Torys, is among the A-list names that will make up the board of trustees for Retirement Residence Real Estate Investment Trust, the investment fund that plans to go public this month and then acquire Central Park Lodges.

Other trustees include John Evans, former University of Toronto president and current chairman of both Alcan Inc. and Torstar Corp., and Ernie Eves, who is Ontario's former finance minister and now vice-chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston Canada.

As a result of the planned buyout once the new REIT completes its IPO, the Reichmann family, Canada's real estate dynasty headed by patriarch Paul Reichmann, will reduce its stake in the retirement home business.

The Reichmanns own 70 per cent of Central Park Lodges, with the Kuhl family, who have long been in the retirement home business, owning the remaining 30 per cent.

After the acquisition by Retirement Residence REIT, the two families will together own around 50 per cent in the new investment trust, according to Manfred Walt, chief financial officer of Central Park Lodges.

Paul Reichmann and his son Barry Reichmann, along with George Kuhl, will also sit on the new REIT's board of trustees. Barry Reichmann, 34, is expected to carry his position as president and chief executive officer of the existing REIT over to the new entity.

Central Park Lodges's own publicly traded REIT, CPL Long Term Care Real Estate Investment Trust, is also part of the deal. It will be run by the new Retirement Residence REIT, although the Reichmanns and Kuhls will only lower their collective ownership of that trust marginally to 11 per cent from their current 15-per-cent stake.

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Once the planned IPO is complete, the new REIT will become the largest nursing home company in Canada with the acquisition of almost all of Central Park Lodges' assets. These include 74 retirement homes, mainly in Canada, and other related health care services.

Street underwriters, the marketing roadshow for the new REIT's IPO began yesterday. It is expected to be priced the week of March 26.

CORRECTION

Retirement Residence Real Investment Trust will become the largest retirement home company in Canada, not the largest nursing home company, with its acquisition of Central Park Lodges Ltd. Incorrect information was published yesterday. (Wednesday, March 7, 2001, Page B2)

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