Amid Altas’ MyEyeDr auction, FFL to consider options for EyeCare Partners in months ahead

  • Altas- and CDPQ- backed MyEyeDr could fetch around or north of $2 bln valuation
  • FFL taps Moelis to weigh options for EyeCare Partners later this year; No process underway
  • MyEyeDr and EyeCare Partners expected to draw different PE groups

As the auction for the largest sponsor-backed optometry platform in the country, MyEyeDr, moves forward, the backers of EyeCare Partners intend to weigh strategic alternatives for the more medical-focused group later this year, sources told Buyouts.

MyEyeDr, the national chain of optometry practices and retail shops backed by Altas Partners and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, is in the second round of its Jefferies-run auction process, some of the sources said.

Vienna, Virginia-based MyEyeDr is being marketed off adjusted 2019 Ebitda of $160 million, three sources said. A potential transaction could value the company at around or upward of $2 billion, some of the sources said.

The vision industry has yet to see a sponsor-backed transaction of this scale. But publicly traded National Vision Holdings, with a market capitalization of about $2.1 billion, is trading at an EV-to-Ebitda multiple of some 22x, according to Capital IQ.

Led by Co-Founder and CEO Sue Downes, MyEyeDr — similar to National Vision — operates a retail- and brand-oriented model and focuses exclusively on the optometry market. The platform includes optometry offices and eye-care storefronts across the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Midwest, offering prescription glasses and frames as well as contact lenses and eye exams.

Toronto’s Altas partnered with CDPQ in August 2015 to acquire Capital Vision Services, which provides management services to MyEyeDr optometry practices.

EyeCare Partners

As the process for MyEyeDr enters its late phases, attention is poised to shift to EyeCare Partners, a portfolio company of FFL Partners.

FFL hired Moelis for financial advice as it prepares to consider strategic alternatives for its vision-care platform, some of the sources said. A sales process has not launched and is not imminent, they cautioned.

EyeCare Partners, St. Louis, includes several regional brands across its more than 240 offices. The company is the second largest independent platform in the U.S. after MyEyeDr within the broader vision-care space, some of the sources said.

But EyeCare Partners differs from MyEyeDr in that it is an integrated platform consisting of both independent optometry and ophthalmology practices. The latter practice offers medical and surgical eye care through the diagnosis and treatment of various eye diseases and conditions.

The distinction between the two businesses will likely be reflected in the outcomes of the current and anticipated processes.

MyEyeDr has drawn interest from those investing through the lens of a retail-oriented strategy, whereas EyeCare Partners is more apt to field interest from large-cap sponsors pursuing a healthcare-focused thesis, sources said.

Providers of vision care have seen significant investment from the PE community to date. But the industry remains highly fragmented and is considered to have tremendous runway for continued growth and consolidation.

While healthcare services industries such as dental and veterinary care have seen their share of billion-dollar-range transactions, MyEyeDr and EyeCare Partners would represent the first of such scale in eye care.

Midsize platforms include H.I.G. Capital’s American Vision Partners, Harvest PartnersEyeCare Services Partners, Blue Sea Capital’s Spectrum Vision Partners, Centre PartnersChesapeake Eye Care and Laser Center and founder-run NVision Eye Centers, among others.

FFL, for its part, also owns Eyemart Express, the second largest independent value-focused optical retailer in the U.S., operating in more than 25 states.

Representatives of Altas, CDPQ, Moelis, FFL and Jefferies declined comment. Executives of MyEyeDr and EyeCare Partners didn’t return requests for comment.

Action Item: Check out Altas Partners latest Form ADV: