UK Dental Corporates – More movement?

For such a small business sector the UK Dental “Corporates” do seem to attract a lot of attention along the “who’s selling what now?’ lines. It makes me wonder how stable the whole edifice really is. For as long as I have been writing I seem to have been bringing news of re-financing, buyouts & consolidation. The short history is one of almost constant change.

On the other hand,  anybody who has worked in Dental Practice knows that patients want stability and hate change. If they are going to have someone furtle about in a very sensitive area of their anatomy they would like to know more about them than a grunt from behind a facemask.

How can staff feel secure when there are regular murmurings  and gossip about the “mother ship”? Caring for people is usually the main reason that dentists enter the profession, sadly it doesn’t seem to be at the top of the list for the owners of and manipulators within the corporates. I am still not sure whether it is the right model for (UK) dentistry. Dentist owned franchises seem to make far more sense.

From Business Sale Report” (which sounds to me like the sort of journal usually featured on “Have I Got News For You”) a report on IDH. I was once interviewed by David Hudaly and found him to be a nice guy and a very good operator – sadly I hadn’t realised that I was there to be interviewed, nobody had let me have a job description, T&Cs etc but that’s another story.

Integrated Dental Holdings in a £300m sale
Mon, 15 Nov 2010
By Eilis Jordan
Merrill Lynch has put the UK’s biggest chain of dental practices, Integrated Dental Holdings, on the market with a price tag of between £300 million and £400 million.
Set up by dentist David Hudaly in 1996, the Bolton-based business now operates 250 practices offering private and NHS services to around 1.5 million patients each year, and boasts more than 700 dentists.
Merrill Lynch’s previous attempt to sell IDH in September last year, with a sale price of £200 million, was unsuccessful.
Merrill Lynch, which owns a controlling stake in the group, is managing the sale process itself this time round with Hawkpoint acting as advisor.
The private equity outfit of Merrill Lynch took on the majority stake in early 2008, in a deal which is believed to have valued IDH at £300 million, including its debts. The seller, LGV Capital, the private equity arm of Legal & General, also sold two other healthcare businesses within one week.
At the time, a hefty windfall was expected for David Hudaly and his team out of the deal, with the intention to put most of the cash back into the business.
Under ownership of LGV Capital from early 2006 to early 2008, IDH’s number of surgeries increased from 130 to about 190 and its turnover jumped from £75 million to £90 million.

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