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Care homes group Orpea's revenue boosted by growth outside of France

FILE PHOTO: Logo of French care homes company Orpea in Reze

(Reuters) - France's Orpea, hit by accusations of malpractice at its French retirement homes, on Tuesday reported a jump in third-quarter revenue, driven by strong growth outside of France, rising occupancy rates, and contribution from facilities opened over the last 12 months.

In June, Orpea said an independent audit had found evidence of financial wrongdoing, including inflated labour expenses and suspiciously large payments to third parties, although it did not find support for all the accusations made in "Les Fossoyeurs" (the gravediggers), a book by independent journalist Victor Castanet published in January this year.

The group, which has requested conciliation talks with creditors and warned of impairments, posted a revenue of 1.18 billion euros ($1.19 billion) in the period between July and September, up 4% organically from a year earlier.

Following a decline between January and April, the group said the occupancy rate in its French retirement homes reached an average of 85.4% in the third quarter. This was an increase of 0.9 percentage points from the prior quarter, but down around 1.5 points on the year.

In Orpea's largest region covering France, Benelux, Britain and Ireland, quarterly revenue increased by 1.6% organically.

Meanwhile, Central Europe saw 5.3% organic revenue growth, Eastern Europe grew by 10.1%, and Orpea's smallest Iberia and Latin America region posted 17.7% growth.

Orpea, which has lost 90% of its market cap this year, also reported a consolidated gross debt of 9.53 billion euros as of Sept. 30, while its cash stood at 854 million euros.

The first meeting with Orpea's unsecured debt holders will be held on Nov. 15, when the company will also present its transformation plan.

($1 = 0.9909 euros)

(Reporting by Diana Mandiá; editing by Milla Nissi)