Exclusive: One Call Care in $2 billion bid for Helios - sources

(Reuters) - Medical cost containment services company One Call Care Management is preparing to bid close to $2 billion for peer Helios, people familiar with the matter said, in what would be one of the workers’ compensation sector’s biggest mergers.

Private equity firm Apax Partners LLP, the owner of One Call Care, plans to submit a binding offer later this month to Helios’ owners, buyout firms Kelso & Company and Stone Point Capital LLC, the people said this week.

Apax faces competition for Helios from other private equity firms, including Hellman & Friedman LLC and TPG Capital LP, the people added, asking not to be identified because the sale process is confidential.

Helios, Kelso, Apax, Hellman & Friedman and TPG declined to comment, while One Call Care and Stone Point did not respond to requests for comment.

Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Helios provides workers’ compensation and pharmacy benefit management to some of the largest U.S. insurers and third-party administrators. It manages more than 7 million prescriptions annually.

Kelso formed Helios in 2013 through the merger of Progressive Medical, which was owned by Stone Point Capital’s StoneRiver Holdings, and PMSI, a portfolio company of HIG Capital.

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, One Call Care was acquired by Apax in 2013 and merged with Align Networks Inc, a smaller peer that was owned by investment firm General Atlantic LLC. The combined company was valued at the time at around $3 billion, including debt.

A deal between One Call Care and Helios would be the latest example of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act of 2010 fuelling consolidation in the workers’ compensation industry, as companies seek scale to be able to offer better prices to insurers and companies, who are in turn under pressure to cut their costs.

Last year, buyout firm KKR & Co LP KKR.N agreed to buy Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc, a provider of claims processing and productivity management services specializing in workers' compensation, from Stone Point and Hellman & Friedman for $2.4 billion, including debt.

(This story has been refiled to fix typo in ‘Partners’ in second paragraph)

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker