United Health may sell Amil after having to stay with loss-making plans

After the National Supplementary Health Agency (ANS) barred the sale of Amil’s portfolio of individual health plans to Personalized Health Care (APS), US healthcare giant United Health is expected to begin a radical process: the sales not only of these 337 thousand plans, but of its business as a whole, including the portfolio of policyholders and the hospital network. The multibillion-dollar proposal has already started to circulate on the market, the Estadão.

Given the size of the operation, the main candidates would be Bradesco Seguros and Rede D’Or, which have already shown an appetite for acquiring Amil’s hospitals – a process that was started, but ended up not being carried out. Dasa, which belongs to the Bueno family (founder of Amil), would also have an eye on the operation. Among investment funds, Advent is mentioned, but the bet is that other giants specialized in acquisitions may enter the competition soon.

The health sector, considered a “safe haven” even in the face of the crisis scenario, remains very heated in mergers and acquisitions. Proof of this was the recent lightning negotiation between Rede D’Or and SulAmérica, which can be interpreted as a sign that D’Or is also interested in health plans.

DIFFICULTIES

As it is failing to take the weight of individual plans off its balance sheet, United Health will put it on a much larger selling package. Amil, according to data available on its website, has a network of 5.7 million beneficiaries, 7,400 laboratories, 19,500 employees and 19,700 physicians. The company also has 15 hospital units and 1,200 hospitals accredited to its network.

Even so, the reading of people involved in the negotiations is that the analysis will need to be thorough, as the 337 thousand plans will be an obstacle. In addition to this specific problem, there is the notion that, since the acquisition in 2012, United Health has not been able to extract enough value from the business, which has undergone some restructuring since then.

It’s a problem United has done its best to get rid of. After offering the package of 337 thousand lives to almost the entire market, the company committed to invest R$ 2.3 billion in the business, passing on the plans to APS. The American company’s idea was to “sell” APS to a group led by Fiord. If the agreement were approved, these new administrators would receive another R$ 3 billion.

However, the ANS barred the operation. This is because, although the agency has stated that there would be no problem in transferring customers to a new business, the autarchy’s understanding was that United Health did this with the goal of transferring it to a third party.

United Health said it did not comment on rumors and claimed to be a long-term investor in the country. The Bradesco Saúde group did not comment on the case, but stated that it is “aware of changes in the sector (…), evaluating impacts and opportunities for its business”. Rede D’Or and Dasa declined to comment. Advent did not respond.

The information is from the newspaper. The State of São Paulo.

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