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Cape Town – JSE-listed Universal Partners said on Tuesday that it had agreed to invest £15 million to sink its teeth into Dentex Healthcare Group in the UK.

The investment holding company with a primary listing in Mauritius and a secondary one on the JSE's AltX said an initial £4 million would secure a 36 percent shareholding in Dentex, a dental partnership group. An additional £11 million in convertible loan notes would enable Universal Partners to increase its shareholding to up to 49 percent.

Universal said the investment was in line with its primary objective of achieving strong capital appreciation in pounds sterling over the medium to long term through investing in high quality growth businesses across Europe, with a particular focus on the UK.

The company said in a statement that Dentex had a "unique co-ownership model that encourages clinical excellence and growth in profitability". "Dentex has the capacity to roll out and support a network of dental practices and they have strategically partnered with several dentists who they will work with to invest in practices that deliver sustainable cash flow generation, predominantly in the growing private dental market."

Universal Partners said it was investing equity alongside management and strategic partners to fund Dentex's investment into further practices. Dentex's chief executive officer, Barry Lanesman, trained and practiced as a dentist in South Africa before developing finance and banking businesses focused on the dental and medical professions in Australia.

He was initially backed by Absa subsidiary MLS Bank before being purchased by MLC, a subsidiary of Lend-Lease Corporation and ultimately owned by National Australia Bank. "Prior to moving to the UK, Barry was instrumental in growing a banking business, which was purchased by Investec Bank Australia, becoming their private banking business, and later sold to Bank of Queensland," the statement added.