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FFL’s EyeCare Partners hits the auction block

FFL Partners has kicked off a sales process for EyeCare Partners, a hybrid optometry and ophthalmology provider, according to several sources familiar with the matter. 

The St. Louis vision care company expects to field initial bids over the next couple weeks, with a deal likely to be signed by mid- to late-December, two of the sources said.

Buyouts initially reported in May that Moelis had been engaged to provide financial advice on a sponsor-focused sales process.

The company is marketing approximately $135 million in Ebitda, the sources said.

The eye care industry has commanded significant interest from the PE community to date, with the even larger MyEyeDr in June trading hands in what represented the largest sponsor transaction in vision-care history. 

Concluding a Jefferies-run auction, Goldman Sachs, through its merchant banking division, bought the optometry-focused giant in a deal valued at $2.7 billion, or approximately 17x adjusted 2019 Ebitda, sources told Buyouts at the time. 

While the process remains in its early stages, EyeCare Partners could prove a more complicated asset to price, sources said. 

On one hand, sponsors like what CEO Kelly McCrann is trying to build in terms of an integrated optometry and ophthalmology model, along with its existing scale and market opportunity over the next several years, sources said. EyeCare Partners consists of both independent optometry clinics, which offer prescription glasses, frames, contact lenses and eye exams, as well as ophthalmology practices, which concentrate on medical and surgical eye care through the diagnosis and treatment of various eye diseases and conditions. 

At the same time, there is risk associated with EyeCare Partners’ rapid pace of acquisitions over the last 12 months, sources said. The company will likely need to slow down on the M&A front to digest recent purchases, which may require additional investment, they said. 

Three acquisitions account for the bulk of recent growth: Chandler, Arizona’s Nationwide Vision, Royal Oak, Michigan’s Associated Retinal Consultants and Grene Vision Group of Wichita, Kansas.

FFL, a San Francisco-based middle market firm, first invested in EyeCare Partners in April 2015.

Today the company offers medical eye care throughout Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, and Michigan.

The firm’s current healthcare portfolio also includes Autism Learning Partners, Eyemart Express, Interactive Health, Midwest Dental, Summit Behavioral Healthcare and Wellstreet Urgent Care. 

FFL and Moelis declined to comment, while company executives didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

Action Item: Check out FFL’s latest Form ADV: https://bit.ly/2Jr8MVu