Medical-care providers are teaming up all over the health care industry to reduce costs and to strengthen their negotiating positions with insurance firms. The trend is particularly evident in the field of anesthesiology, in which smaller groups are quickly realizing the benefits of bigger buyers, including collective bargaining power. Anesthesiologists are also influencing M&A among innovative drug makers. (For more, see the video Regulation Drives M&A, Especially in Health Care.)

As a sign of heightened interest in the medical specialty, investment bank Cross Keys Capital has six anesthesiology practice clients currently under letters of intent with a variety of suitors, plus another six privately held anesthesiology practices on the auction block. The practices are feeling pressure from insurers such as Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET) and Blue Cross Blue Shield over the lowering of reimbursement rates, explains Cross Key co-founder Bill Britton. Now more than ever, smaller companies are welcoming Mednax (NYSE: MD), TeamHealth (NYSE: TMH) and AmSurg Corp. (Nasdaq: AMSG) as suitors.

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