NexPhase’s Action Behavior Center returns to auction block

Less than a year into its investment, NexPhase Capital Partners has put Texas autism-treatment company Action Behavior Centers up for sale, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Indications of interest for the company are due Monday, Sept. 23, two of the people said.

Berkery Noyes is offering financial advice to the Austin, Texas, company, on a sponsors-only auction process, one of the sources, and a separate source, said.

The company is marketing about $20 million in Ebitda, one of the people said.

NexPhase, whose members spun out of Moelis Capital Partners in 2016, recapitalized Action Behavior Centers in October 2018. Cain Brothers advised the company on the transaction.

The company’s co-founders, CEO Ryan Lambert and Holly Lambert, invested alongside NexPhase in the transaction.

Launched in 2016, Action Behavior Centers provides applied behavioral analysis to treat children with autism spectrum disorder. The company focuses on therapy for children ages 2-6, known as early intensive behavioral intervention.

Action Behavior Centers treats children throughout Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas/Fort Worth.

While sources said it remains too early in the process to determine price expectations or a likely valuation for Action Behavior Centers, autism-treatment providers have consistently commanded premium multiples from the private equity community.

Assets in the sector have commanded multiples of Ebitda in the mid-teens to as much as 20x.

Another player in the market is Centria Healthcare, the largest provider of autism-treatment therapy in Michigan. Buyouts initially reported in July that a Moelis-conducted sales process was underway for the Martis Capital– and Lorient Capital-backed company.

Autism-treatment has seen an acceleration of private equity activity over the past few years, as demand for treatment services grow and an evolving reimbursement market requires better institutionalization.

In recent activity, Arsenal Capital Partner prevailed in the auction for Baird Capital’s Hopebridge in a deal valued at approximately $255 million, sources told Buyouts at the time.

In March, Gryphon Investors struck a deal for LLR’s Learn Behavioral, a provider of autism-treatment and educational services.

Other notable trades in the sector include Blackstone Group’s approximately $600 million deal for Center for Autism and Related Disorders and FFL Partners’ more than $270 million transaction for Autism Learning Partners.

Elsewhere, KKR created its own platform of clinics called Blue Sprig Pediatrics.

NexPhase in April sold Comprehensive Pharmacy Services, generating an approximately 5x return on its investment. Frazier Healthcare Partners bought the company in a deal valued north of $500 million, Buyouts reported.

Action Item: Check out NexPhase’s latest Form ADV: