Blackstone has named senior managing director Anushka Sunder to the new position of head of healthcare for private equity North America, PE Hub has learned. Effective in January, the move reflects the New York firm’s increasingly large bet on the healthcare sector, as well as a promotion for Sunder, whom Buyouts and PE Hub featured in our 2021 Women in Private Equity coverage.
“Healthcare is an important sector focus for our corporate private equity team led by Anushka,” Joe Baratta, global head of private equity, told Buyouts. “We have focused on pharma services, essential healthcare products and the life sciences value chain. We will continue to be very active in this core investment theme.”
With many costs to consumers considered nondiscretionary and therefore recession-resilient, the healthcare sector is expected to generate a lot of dealmaking in 2023.
Sunder sees additional opportunities in today’s market that Blackstone is well positioned to seize, given its size, resources and experience in the sector.
“For private companies today that may have been looking to an IPO as a form of exit and monetization for the current shareholder base, that exit pathway is, at a minimum, pushed out a bit,” Sunder said in an exclusive interview.
“And so, if someone is looking for liquidity, or a mark, or support for scale M&A, or even a partial monetization, I think that universe of opportunities – especially at scale, where there is not a robust field of 10 to 15 sponsors that can transact – becomes a potential opportunity and entry point for certain high-quality businesses.”
Sunder pointed out that even Blackstone’s existing healthcare portfolio “is not necessarily obvious assets that existed in their current form, previously owned by a sponsor. Medline was family-owned. Precision Medicine was founder-led and had investors alongside them. HealthEdge has been a buy-and-build, where we started with one asset and have fundamentally transformed that business in the last three years through strategic M&A.”
Sunder joined Blackstone in 2013 and was promoted to partner in 2021, faster than the typical nine to 10 years it usually takes, explained Martin Brand, head of North America private equity and global co-head of technology investing.
Pointing to the Precision Medicine deal, Brand said: “It’s a real testament to Anushka and her leadership to be able to source transactions like this that are not the run-of-the-mill – unlike say a roll-up, where you buy a bunch of popcorn stands, slap them together and hope somebody else will pay more for it.”
“Speak up,” Sunder advises those who want to get ahead in private equity. She recalled a moment early in her career when a comment she made in an investment committee meeting prompted then-president and COO Tony James to drop by her office and encourage her to keep participating.
As she said: “In order for people to know what you think and how you think, you have to be able to articulate the work you’ve done.”