LGV makes a healthy return

Legal & General Ventures (LGV) has sold its majority holding in the Santé Finance clinics group to UHS, the listed American private hospital operator. Santé Finance was LGV’s first investment in France.

UHS has acquired an 80% stake in the company for FF552.9 million. The remaining 20% was retained by the management. Upon completion, Santé Finance was renamed Medi Partenaires.

Santé Finance was formed in September 1997 by a management buyout of the five clinics of the FCPR Medi Partenaires. A buy and build strategy was employed. LGV committed FF70 million to the transaction, acquiring a stake of just over 50%, which it has sold for FF180 million. In 1998 and 1999, the company acquired three major clinics – the Aressy (Pau), St Augustin (Bordeaux) and St Jean (Montpellier) clinics, which increased the group’s turnover from euro35 million in 1997 to over euro75 million in 2000. LGV supported the group in financing these acquisitions both in terms of mezzanine and core capital.

As the French private clinics sector consolidates further, the management and LGV were agreed that further backing would enable Santé Finance to continue its growth. UHS will provide the company with the resources to continue its expansion by following the same strategy as that agreed with LGV.

The exit represents LGV’s second profitable realisation from a continental European transaction within the last six months. Hervé Franc, managing director LGV in Paris, said: “Santé Finance represents an ideal transaction for LGV. To support a highly professional management team, finance an active buy and build policy, to conclude, in co-operation with the management, a good deal with a front line industrialist and create value for the funds we advise.”