Investment Groups Altas and CDPQ Invest With Management to Acquire MyEyeDr./Capital Vision Services


Sue Downes.

VIENNA, Va.—Capital Vision Services, LP (CVS) which provides management services to MyEyeDr. optometry practices, announced on Aug. 17 that it has received an equity investment from a group led by Altas Partners and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), two large investment firms who are doing so in partnership with CVS’ co-founder and CEO Sue Downes and other members of management, who will continue leading the company in their current roles.

Joining the investor group are several leading institutional and private investors, including Andell Inc. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Toronto-based Altas was established in 2012. Montreal’s Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), also known as La Caisse, is a long-term institutional investor that manages funds primarily for public and parapublic pension and insurance plans. As of June 30, 2015, it held $240.8 billion in net assets, making it one of the largest investment firms in the world. As one of Canada’s leading institutional fund managers, CDPQ, which marks its 50th anniversary this year, invests globally in major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure and real estate.

Executives told VMail that they are focused on a “long-term orientation” with their investments and plan to accelerate MyEyeDr.’s expansion and investment in its infrastructure.

Founded in 2001 by Downes and Robert Samit, OD, MyEyeDr./CVS supports affiliated, independent MyEyeDr. optometrists and their practices with a complete array of financial, marketing, human resources and accounting services, along with managed care credentialing and claims processing.

CVS has grown from managing a single practice in the Washington D.C. metro area to managing a current total of 165 optometry practice locations in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington D.C. MyEyeDr. affiliated practices have grown steadily through new location openings and collaborative acquisitions, and today have nearly 2,000 employees serving approximately 1.8 million active patients throughout the U.S., the company said.

MyEyeDr. was ranked number 10 in the most recent Vision Monday Top U.S. Optical Retailers list based on calendar year 2014 sales. In addition to other acquisitions during the year, MyEyeDr. started and ended 2014 with major acquisitions in North Carolina—Doctors Vision Centers and Eye Care Associates, the latter in December 2014.

This past July, Downes also told VMail, MyEyeDr. also completed the purchase of six offices from Ryan and Joel Halpern, OD of six Vision Associate offices in Maryland.

“The news of this new partnership underscores the success of CVS to-date, the tremendous talent we have at every level of the organization and our bright future,” Downes said, adding, “I am thrilled to partner with Altas and CDPQ as we continue to grow CVS, support the MyEyeDr. optometrists, and offer MyEyeDr. patients high-quality service and care that they greatly value.

“Altas and CDPQ are long-term investors who share our ownership philosophy and value our passion for helping patients,” Downes told VMail. “Our model has proven with our growth and our involvement with Monitor Clipper has enabled us to reach this level. Going forward, Altas and La Caisse are the right partnership for our next phase of growth to build our strong alignment with independent optometrists and expand our doctor-driven model.”

Boston-based Monitor Clipper originally invested in MyEyeDr. in December 2012, as reported by VMail.

Downes said, “We thank our original investors, Monitor Clipper and Charlesbank, for their many years of support which helped drive the initial expansion of our business, and, in particular, thanks to Charles Yoon who has been a great partner and source of guidance.”

With the Altas and CDPW deal, Monitor Clipper will no longer be involved in the business, Downes said. And, with the new deal, Downes told VMail, Samit, who had most recently served as chairman of the board when Downes was named CEO of the company in October 2014 will also be exiting. "On behalf of everyone in our organization, I thank Dr. Rob Samit who, as co-founder was instrumental in establishing MyEyeDr. and setting us on the path to growth and excellence."

Downes emphasized that David Sheffer, now executive vice president of corporate development at MyEyeDr./CVS will continue with the company as will other senior managers. “And, our team will grow,” she noted to VMail. “With the resources of Altas and CDPQ/La Caisee, we have the capabilities to consider acquisitions of any size and magnitiude.”

Sheffer said, “We appreciate Altas and CDPQ’s confidence in CVS and our affiliated MyEyeDr. optometry practices. This new investment underscores the strength of CVS’ financial position and market leadership, providing further capital as we pursue acquisitions and bring more outstanding optometrists into the MyEyeDr. family of affiliated practices around the country.” Sheffer said that the company is projecting at least 200 locations by the end of this year.

Scott Werry, a partner at Altas, told VMail, “Altas was started with a unique strategy, a longer term orientation to investing. We take the view to be a stable capital partner with the companies we invest in. We were drawn to the optical/vision care market because of its growth opportunities. We spent about two years studying the field and we believe in the doctor-driven model, versus large box stores or other formats, as the right approach. It became clear to us that MyEyeDr. was a leader in this arena, with an exceptional management team. We look forward to working collaboratively with Sue and the talented team at CVS in the years ahead.”

“With this investment, CDPQ contributes to the further expansion of a company that has made a name for itself in its sector over the past 15 years with a distinctive business model,” added Andreas Beroutsos, executive vice president, private equity and Infrastructure, of CDPQ. “From a long-term investment standpoint, CDPQ’s contribution will enable the company to carry out its growth plan.”