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DENVER and BAAR-ZUG, Switzerland—Partners Group, a global private markets investment manager, announced this morning that it has agreed to make “a significant equity investment” in EyeCare Partners LLC (ECP), a leading vertically integrated medical vision services provider in the U.S. Partners Group will become the majority shareholder, while ECP's management team and physician partners will continue to maintain a substantial equity stake in the 450-location practice group, according to the announcement. The transaction with FFL Partners selling its stake in ECP, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Following the investment, Partners Group will work closely with ECP's management team, led by chief executive officer Kelly McCrann, on strategic initiatives to support ongoing organic and acquisitive growth. Key areas of focus for these initiatives will include the following: increasing the recruitment of high-quality ophthalmologists and optometrists; optimizing the network model; expanding and maximizing ambulatory surgical center utilization; enhancing administrative processes and operating efficiencies; investing in clinical technologies that enhance patient care; and pursuing select M&A partnership opportunities that provide world-class medical vision care and patient experience.

“Partners Group has excellent operational support capabilities and an extremely successful track record of working with high-growth companies to build critical mass in the highly fragmented U.S. health care sector,” McCrann said in the announcement. “We are thrilled to have found a long-term partner that shares our patient- and physician-centric outlook. We are very excited to work with Partners Group to both strengthen ECP's offering and expand our presence throughout the U.S.”

In a separate announcement, FFL Partners partner Chris Harris said the U.S. investment firm was proud to have “partnered with CEO Kelly McCrann and his talented team to create an exceptional network of independent primary care practices anchored by patient-centered doctors and ECP’s comprehensive suite of centralized business support services This is a great outcome for our investors and our doctor shareholder partners.”

The announcement also noted that, under FFL’s ownership, EyeCare Partner’s revenue grew at a compounded growth rate of 65 percent while the firm expanded its geographic footprint from 63 to more than 450 sites of service through over 60 strategic acquisitions.

Partners Group, with offices in Denver, calls itself “one of the largest private markets investment managers in the world,” serving more than 900 institutional investors through private markets. It has more than $91 billion in assets under management.

Todd Miller, a managing director and co-head private equity directs, Americas, at Partners Group, said the investment firm believes that ECP is “a market outperformer with strong momentum in a growing industry. We are excited to bring our operational experience with multi-site health care operations into partnership with ECP's talented management team and physician partners, who share Partners Group's focus on ensuring patient care remains at the forefront of operational decisions.

Miller also noted that the firm will work together with McCrann and the ECP team to “enhance patient care, expand geographically, and build local density, among other things."

Remy Hauser, a managing director, head of health care industry value creation at Partners Group, added, "Our ‘thematic sourcing efforts over the past 24 months identified the medical vision segment as a highly attractive sub-sector within the health care sector, ripe for organic growth, expansion, and consolidation.”

Founded in 2015 and based in St. Louis, Mo., ECP has an extensive network of full-scope medical optometry and ophthalmology practices, with over 450 locations across 13 states. The company employs more than 500 optometrists and 85 ophthalmologists who, together with over 4,400 clinic staff, offer patients end-to-end services covering medical optometry, ophthalmology and sub-specialties, and vision correction products.

ECP's model provides an integrated network of services that cover the entire lifecycle of a patient's eyecare needs, which results in increased patient and physician satisfaction and retention.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP represented Partners Group in the transaction.