Cerberus joins long list of firms investing in fragmented autism-treatment sector, Blackstone-backed Sema4 completes SPAC, begins trading

Cerberus buys autism platform from Abry and Blackstone-backed Sema4 debuts on Nasdaq.

Happy Friday, everybody!

Cerberus Capital Management is taking a piece of the autism-treatment market, agreeing to buy Lighthouse Autism Center from Abry Partners, four sources with knowledge of the deal told PE Hub. Fast-approaching completion, the deal values Lighthouse, a center-based provider of ABA therapy for children on the autism spectrum, just north of $400 million, the people said.

Healthcare investment activity has been booming as of late, to put it lightly. What struck me about this one — we haven’t witnessed any big autism treatment platforms trade hands since a herd of PE firms flocked to the specialty around 2017, 2018 and into 2019. After further digging, I found the most recent platform deal came more than a year-and-a-half ago, when General Atlantic in January 2020 invested in ACES. Around the same time, KKR’s Blue Sprig Pediatrics bought Florida Autism Center in a transaction valued at approximately $120 million, PE Hub wrote.

Although scale activity up until now has been minimal, firms have been busy building platforms with add-ons and at least two more autism platforms are on the market right now, I’m told.

Broadly, sources have said the essential nature of autism treatment services has proven out through the pandemic, which should fuel more investment in the sector as strong secular tailwinds are sustained – including a tremendous amount of fragmentation, the need for greater professionalization and rising diagnosis rates.

Check out my full report on PE Hub.

De-SPAC: Blackstone-backed Sema4 — a health intelligence company leveraging AI and machine learning to ultimately improve diagnosis and treatment — is debuting on the Nasdaq today after completing its merger with a SPAC called CM Life Sciences. The SPAC is sponsored by affiliates of Casdin Capital and Corvest Management.

According to a WSJ article, the SPAC deal values the company at about $3 billion. Sema4 plans to use the approximately $500 million in cash proceeds it raises to support organic operating needs and capitalize on inorganic opportunities, or acquisitions.

Sema4 in August 2017 scored backing from an investor group that included Blackstone and Oak HC/FT among other VC firms. Deerfield Management joined as an investor in July 2020, pushing the company’s post-money valuation north of $1 billion.

Sema4’s public debut comes four years after its formation, which occurred through the spinout of several genetic testing and data sciences components within certain departments from Mount Sinai Health System.

That’s it for me! Have a great weekend, and as always, hit me up at springle@buyoutsinsider.com with any feedback, tips or just to say hello!