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Optum to Purchase DaVita Medical Group for $4.9B

06 December 2017, 07:22 | Melvin Schneider

The healthcare sector was in focus before the bell

DaVita United Health Group Walt Disney Home Depot- PRE-MARKET

The nation's biggest health insurer is spending almost $5 billion to buy hundreds of clinics, just three days after rival Aetna announced a tie up with CVS Health.

The insurer will acquire almost 300 clinics that serve about 1.7 million patients, as well as 35 urgent-care centers and six surgery centers.

The deal will hopefully cut costs and improve care, given the proximity and number of care centers-especially for people with non-life threatening, chronic conditions.

Reuters reported last month that DaVita was exploring a sale of its medical unit. The local offices include doctors offices and dialysis centers.

EvercoreISI analyst Michael Newshal said he thought near-term earnings additions would be close to neutral given the price that UnitedHealth was paying was on the high side.

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With the purchase, UnitedHealth is increasingly moving into the direct delivery of medical care. UNH is up up 1%, but only on 2 shares.

UnitedHealth has said Optum aims to provide primary care and ambulatory services in 75 markets, representing about two-thirds of the US population.

"Combining DaVita Medical Group and Optum advances our shared goal of supporting physicians in delivering exceptional patient care in innovative and efficient ways while working with more than 300 health care payers across Optum in ways that better meet the needs of their members", Optum CEO Larry C. Renfro said in a statement. It also operates urgent care and outpatient surgery centers.

DaVita's medical group had $4.11 billion in sales past year, or 30 percent of the total.

DaVita plans to use the proceeds from the transaction for significant stock repurchases over the one to two years following the closing of the transaction, as well as to repay debt and for general corporate purposes.



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