UnitedHealth to buy Surgical Care Affiliates in $2.3 billion deal

(Reuters) - UnitedHealth Group Inc's UNH.N said it would buy Surgical Care Affiliates Inc SCAI.O for about $2.30 billion, adding heft to its business that provides services including primary and urgent care in ambulances.

The deal is part of UnitedHealth’s strategy of operating across the entire spectrum of health services, spanning health systems, physicians and health plans.

Surgical Care and its affiliates operate 205 surgical facilities in more than 30 states, including ambulatory surgery centers.

The business will be combined with UnitedHealth’s Optum group, which manages drug benefits and offers healthcare data analytics services.

The offer of $57 per share represents a premium of 17 percent to Surgical Care’s Friday’s close. Surgical Care’s shares were trading at $56.67 on Monday.

Leerink Partners analysts said they had anticipated that UnitedHealth was looking for an ambulatory surgery asset to complement its end-to-end primary care driven ambulatory care delivery platform.

Affiliates of TPG Capital, which own about 30 percent of Surgical Care, have agreed to tender their shares as part of the offer.

The deal will be funded by between 51 percent and 80 percent with UnitedHealth stock, and the remainder with cash.

Evercore ISI analysts said combination should allow Optum to better integrate post-surgery follow-up care into bundled payments, which tie reimbursements to quality and spending targets for a procedure and the recovery period.

The transaction is expected to be neutral to UnitedHealth’s forecast for 2017 adjusted net earnings and modestly add to its 2018 earnings.

Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta