Riata’s AEG Vision inks 12 acquisitions, emerges as rapid consolidator in eyecare market

J.P. Morgan Asset Management joined Riata as an investor a year ago to supporting AEG's aggressive M&A playbook.

Riata Capital Group’s rebranded eyecare platform, AEG Vision, plans to continue its buying spree on the heels of a dozen completed acquisitions, the Dallas buyout firm told PE Hub.

AEG, formerly known as Acuity Eyecare Group, recently closed 12 acquisitions to bring its total footprint to 140 practices across 11 states, the firm said. The 22 additional locations span Arizona, Tennessee, Texas and Ohio.

Riata, which ultimately aspires to scale AEG to 250 to 300 locations, said it expects to close additional acquisitions representing another 30 practices in the first quarter throughout Texas, the midwest and southwest.

In 2019 alone, the PE-backed platform completed a total of 30 acquisitions comprising of 60 practices.

Riata formed then-Acuity Eyecare Holdings in March 2017 through the simultaneous acquisition of three regional eyecare groups, emerging as an aggressive consolidator of the eye care market in the time since.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management in January 2019 joined Riata as a minority investor in AEG in connection with the platform’s acquisitions of ABBA Eye Care, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and EyeCare Facilities, of Lincoln Nebraska.

Majority owned by Riata, AEG provides various optometric services and offers lenses, frames and contact lenses across its wholly-owned practices, which operate under different regional brands.

The eye care company is led by CEO Eric Anderson, a former executive of various companies including Fossil Group and Luxottica Group. At Luxottica, Anderson worked as president of LensCrafters North America, among other positions over an 18 year period.

For Riata, a Dallas-based private equity firm launched in 2015, AEG represents the second eye care platform for certain investment professionals.

Riata’s investment in AEG was led by Managing Partner and Co-Founder Jeff Fronterhouse, who previously led and organized the acquisition of Vision Source alongside other Riata members.

As the cofounder and former co-CEO of Brazos Private Equity Partners, Fronterhouse led Brazos’ 2011 investment in Vision Source through its sale to Essilor USA in late 2015. Dallas-based Brazos, which has since winded down, expected to make nearly 3x its money with the sale, a source told PE Hub at the time.

Fronterhouse subsequently co-founded Riata alongside Barron Fletcher, founder and managing partner of Parallel Investment Partners. Nine people from Brazos moved over to Riata, PE Hub reported.

Riata invests across business services, consumer and healthcare services, partnering with seasoned management teams to build high-growth, middle-market companies.

The firm makes control and non-control investments, with a typically equity check in the $25 million to $100 million range. Riata seeks to back companies generating Ebitda of $5 million to $30 million with a total enterprise value of $25 million to $250 million.

Action Item: Reach Riata’s Jeff Fronterhouse at jfronterhouse@riatacapital.com

Correction: A previous version of the story misstated that AEG’s 30 pending acquisitions represent 60 practices. The story has also been updated with the correct spelling of Brazos in one mention.