Asian Oil Rig Giant Buys Into Old Folks' Homes Across the U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- One of the world’s largest makers of oil rigs has a new focus: running old folks’ homes right across the U.S.

Keppel Corp., a stalwart of Singapore’s oil-and-gas sector, is spending as much as $77.3 million for a 50 percent stake in Watermark Retirement Communities, Inc., which manages more than 9,000 beds in the U.S., according to a statement. The deal also covers additional interests in some retirement homes.

The agreement marks a change of direction for Keppel, which also has interests in property and infrastructure, and is part-held by Temasek Holdings Pte, the Singaporean state investor. In recent years, Keppel’s been expanding beyond rigs after demand for drilling facilities tanked following the biggest oil crash in a decade. The city-state’s own population is rapidly aging.

“Against the backdrop of fast-aging populations across many regions, demand is growing exponentially,” said Keppel Chief Executive Officer Loh Chin Hua, describing the acquisition as a “strategic move.”

Watermark, based in Arizona, manages 52 so-called senior housing communities in 21 states, and has plans to expand that to more than 60 by 2020. The company’s existing management will continue to be responsible for day-to-day operations, Keppel said in the statement.

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