UnitedHealth nears deal to buy Advisory Board's healthcare division

UnitedHealth, which is already the nation’s largest insurer and boasts a rapidly growing healthcare services arm, may be poised to grow even further through an acquisition.

The company and Vista Equity Partners are moving toward a deal to buy and split up the Advisory Board, a health and education consulting firm, according to Bloomberg.

It could be up to a month before any such deal is officially announced, the article notes, and both Vista and UnitedHealth spokesmen declined comment. The Advisory Board has been working with Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co. to seek out potential buyers since around March.

If the deal goes through, Vista would acquire the Advisory Board’s education division—which could sell for as much as $1.5 billion—while UnitedHealth would buy its healthcare business.

The Advisory Board offers a range of consulting services for healthcare companies, on topics that range from general strategy to electronic health record optimization. It also provides tech solutions, including mobile rounding technology, population health analytics and revenue optimization.

That portfolio could fit in well with Optum’s suite of services, which includes data and analytics, healthcare operations, healthcare delivery, pharmacy care services and population health management.

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Optum and its various divisions have been quite lucrative for UnitedHealth. In the first quarter of 2017, its revenues grew 7.9% year over year, reaching a total of $21.2 billion. Every Optum segment reported double-digit percentage earnings growth in the quarter, as well.  

Meanwhile, Optum has already expanded through an acquisition earlier this year. In January, UnitedHealth purchased Surgical Care Affiliates for $2.3 billion, combining the ambulatory surgery center and surgical hospital provider with the OptumCare business unit.