Summit to invest in Center for Autism & Related Disorders: sources

Summit Partners is investing in the Center for Autism & Related Disorders, two sources said. The deal is valued at $300 million, one of the people said.

The Chula Vista, California, center treats individuals of any age who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The center employs nearly 2,000 people nationally, its website shows. Doreen Granpeesheh, an autism expert and clinical psychologist, in 1990 founded the center, which specializes in “applied behavior analysis” to treat patients.

Symptoms of autism include lack of eye contact, difficulty initiating and maintaining conversations with others and becoming distressed by minor changes in routines.

The Center for Autism has been “considering options for many months,” a different source, a GP, said. Sangam Pant, a managing director at the center who is also a former senior managing director of Evercore Partners, is handling the transaction, people said.

Demand for a nationally recognized autism-treatment provider is huge, the GP said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2014 that one in every 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. That’s a 30 percent jump from the previous estimated rate of 1 in 88 reported in 2012, the autism center said.

Summit Partners, a growth equity firm with offices in Boston, London and Menlo Park, California, takes minority and majority stakes. The firm invests in technology, healthcare and life sciences, as well as growth products and services.

Summit is a frequent investor in healthcare. Deals include MedOptions, Dentalpro and DuPage Medical Group.

The firm was targeting $3 billion for its ninth middle-market fund, Buyouts reported in 2015. Summit raised $2.35 billion for Fund IX, an SEC filing dated Aug. 25 said. In 2014, Summit collected $2.7 billion for its eighth flagship fund.

Executives for Summit declined comment. The Center for Autism & Related Disorders could not be reached for comment.

Action Item: Contact the Center for Autism: +1 818-345-2345.

Photo of emotion-management therapy for autistic children courtesy ©iStock/Macsnap