Large healthcare companies have been buying physician practices in order… (Getty Images )
Reflecting the growing consolidation wave sparked by healthcare reform, kidney dialysis giant DaVita Inc. has agreed to acquire Torrance-based HealthCare Partners, the largest operator of medical groups in the U.S., for $4.42 billion in cash and stock.
The deal represents the latest sign of insurers, hospitals and other large healthcare companies buying up physician practices in order to better position themselves for changes in how the federal government is reimbursing for medical care.
Those changes put a premium on having a bigger presence among physicians and clinics who deal with patients daily and have the opportunity to squeeze out unnecessary medical spending.
This acquisition, which includes $3.66 billion in cash and 9.38 million shares of DaVita stock, is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Once the merger is complete, HealthCare Partners will operate as a subsidiary.
HealthCare Partners, led by chairman and chief executive Robert Margolis, had become a valuable asset given its long history of managing patients across the country.
HealthCare Partners serves more than 667,000 managed-care patients through a team of 700 physicians that are either employed by the company or its affiliated medical groups. It operates in the key markets of California, Nevada and Florida.
The company had $2.4 billion in revenue last year, and its operating income was $488 million.
"There are big opportunities out there and we’ve been doing this for decades,” Margolis said on a conference call.
Margolis, 66, will stay on as CEO of Healthcare Partners, and he will join the DaVita board as co-chairman.
Shares of DaVita were up $4.25, or 5%, to $85.06 in midday trading.
Southern California is home to several large physician groups and the merger market has been active. UnitedHealth Group Inc., the nation's largest health insurer, has acquired several medical groups through a subsidiary.
In November, it acquired the management arm of Monarch HealthCare, the largest physician group in Orange County. UnitedHealth's Optum unit also took over management of AppleCare Medical Group and Memorial HealthCare Independent Practice Assn.
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