Smiles Inclusive CEO resigns as Genesis Capital wins bid to acquire assets

Smiles Inclusive CEO resigns as Genesis Capital wins bid to acquire assets

After 10 months at the helm of embattled Gold Coast-based dental practice chain Smiles Inclusive, Michelle Aquilina has stepped down from her CEO role as the group passes to new hands.

Since entering voluntary administration in November with Deloitte Restructuring Partners managing the process, several alternatives were proposed with Genesis Capital successfully bidding for Smiles' "Totally Smiles Dental Group" assets.

However, one of the bidding groups representing aggrieved joint venture partners (JVPs) claims its proposed Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA) for Smiles Inclusive was not considered in the creditors' meeting, and has called for an injunction in an attempt to prevent the Genesis handover. 

Led by Dr Michael Caristo, Genesis beat a rival bid from a consortium known as 'Apple', which is understood to be backed by Canadian pension fund OPTrust and Dr Alex Abrahams, the co-founder of Pacific Smiles.

Aquilina used to work at Pacific Smiles with seven years at the company in managerial roles, but she has distanced herself from Apple's bid. She told Business News Australia either of these two options would have been beneficial for the group.

"Genesis are the successful bidder. They're an exceptional private equity company that are very well versed and experienced in healthcare," she said.

"Michael Caristo, one of the founding members there, is a doctor himself, so not only does he understand the commercial side of the business but also the relationship side from a healthcare professional point of view.

"I do think that the business is in good hands with Genesis."

She added now was the time to move on from Smiles Inclusive.

"I think it's the right time for me to step aside, so I've resigned as managing director and CEO," she said.

"First and foremost what we've done has been focusing on the survival of the business and going through a successful bidder process, which we did."

Genesis Capital claimed the transaction would bring much needed stability to Totally Smiles' practitioners and staff, as the specialist healthcare investment firm reinvests in the business with a focus on sustainability and clinical quality.

The incoming owner says this will allow Totally Smiles' dentists to continue to deliver the highest standards in dental care, noting key dental partners retained a significant interest in the new structure.

"We are grateful that the administrators and dentist shareholders have chosen Genesis as the preferred partner for Totally Smiles Dental Group moving forward," says Caristo, whose gruop also has investments in entities such as such as SmartClinics, CPR Pharma, SAI Home & Community Care and Cosmos Clinic.

"Having familiarised ourselves with the business we have been very impressed with the dedication that the practitioners have continued to show their patients during what has been a difficult period for the business, in conjunction with the onset of COVID-19.

"We are looking forward to helping ensure that those practitioners can return to focussing on their patients while working in a stable and secure environment."

Late last year an ASIC ban on Smiles Inclusive to raise capital through a simple prospectus was the final nail in the coffin for its status as a listed entity, following years of disappointing results, financial reporting delays, shareholder value dilution, and repeated failures to pay back a loan to National Australia Bank (ASX: NAB).

It was a debt that loomed large over Smiles - also known for its brand Totally Smiles - with repayment requirements reduced from $19 million to $12 million, but even that target could not be met for the company that ran at a $13.6 million loss in the half before COVID-19 when clinics were shut down and many joint venture partners pulled the plug.

Never miss a news update, subscribe here. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

Business News Australia

Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support

How communications technology can raise the bar on customer service, employee experience
Partner Content
From capturing feedback early to providing messages with a higher rate of cut-through, ...
Advertisement

Related Stories

Gold Coast’s Stacked Farm to take vertical growing project national with $56m raise

Gold Coast’s Stacked Farm to take vertical growing project national with $56m raise

Stacked Farm is looking to expand its automated vertical farming mo...

QLD to launch Star Entertainment review in July as former judge appointed to probe casino operator

QLD to launch Star Entertainment review in July as former judge appointed to probe casino operator

Casino operations that account for more than half of The Star Enter...

Origin slapped with $17m fine for failing to protect vulnerable customers

Origin slapped with $17m fine for failing to protect vulnerable customers

Australian energy giant Origin Energy (ASX: ORG) has today been ord...

Salad chain FISHBOWL swims upstream with new stores in Brisbane, Gold Coast

Salad chain FISHBOWL swims upstream with new stores in Brisbane, Gold Coast

A Japanese-inspired salad bar from Bondi with "No More Fast Fo...