PhysiciansFirst expects several key developments in 2019. By the end of this year, we anticipate increased acquisition momentum – both from new entrants and existing companies as they grow and enter new geographies. At the same time, some of the current investor pool (particularly in ophthalmology) will merge. Companies that have been unable to grow at their desired pace will likely combine with larger, more successful enterprises.
We also expect increased opportunities for small practices including single optometrists.
1. New Entrants Will Acquire Initial Platforms
our five key predictions for calendar year 2019
Well-capitalized private equity firms with excellent healthcare track records are waiting for the right opportunity to enter this market. We believe Water Street, TA Associates, BelHealth, Frazier Healthcare Partners, and CI Capital are some of the names that are ideally situated for an investment in vision practice management. Time will tell if, and when, these investors make their first move.2. Existing Companies Will Acquire Platforms in New Geographies
Physicians thinking about the current private equity landscape should be careful not to consider it geographically-bound. For example, a company that is active in the Mid-Atlantic could acquire a platform practice in Utah tomorrow and launch major growth initiatives in the West. PhysiciansFirst expects to see multiple moves of this kind going forward.3. Platforms Will Seek Growth Through Acquisition in Surrounding Areas, Further Expanding Opportunity for Small and Medium Practices
All private equity-backed investors need to grow organically and through acquisition, and they will seek partnership with small and medium practices at an increasing rate. While a small practice in Montana may have limited opportunities today, that will change as the Western United States sees further PE investment activity.4. Companies Will Merge
As private equity-backed companies start to have a longer operating history, their actual performance will be compared to investors’ expectations. Those that are not growing quickly enough will merge into their more successful peers. We will also see situations where both companies are doing well, and a combination simply creates increased, mutual success. A significant merger is also possible across ophthalmology and optometry investors.
5. Competition From Ophthalmology Companies Will Increase
PhysiciansFirst expects several of the approximately twenty private equity investors in ophthalmology to begin making meaningful acquisitions in optometry. These transactions will be driven by the investors’ desire to grow and offer more integrated care networks.
This article is an excerpt from our New White Paper: The Practice Owner's Guide to Private Equity Firms Investing in Optometry.
This White Paper contains an in-depth review of the four major private equity backed Practice Management Companies investing in Optometry across the United States. We detail the history of each company, practice ownership, geographic focus, and future growth objectives and conclude with our key expectations for the future development of this vertical.
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