Charlotte Radiology, a physician-owned radiology practice in the Southeast, has formed a new venture with healthcare investment firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe to expand the practice across the U.S.

The new venture, US Radiology Specialists, also appointed John Perkins as its CEO and member of its board of directors. Perkins comes to the job with experience in operating and scaling up healthcare companies: he was formerly the chief executive of Bio Products Laboratory, a plasma protein therapeutics company, and before that he served as the executive vice president of global commercial operations for Talecris Biotherapeutics. Perkins also has private equity experience as an operating partner for Bain Capital, Ampersand Capital and Cerberus Capital, and held operating and M&A roles at General Electric.

"US Radiology Specialists is a physician-owned and quality-focused group set up to support our mission of providing exceptional patient care," says Bob Mittl, chairman of Charlotte Radiology’s governance board and a US Radiology board member. "We are excited to form US Radiology Specialists in a joint partnership with highly experienced and like-minded partners such as WCAS."

Charlotte Radiology, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, describes itself as one of the nation's largest radiology groups, with 126 physicians and advanced care practitioners in the Southeast U.S., including specialists in body imaging, emergency radiology, interventional radiology, mammography, musculoskeletal, neuroradiology, nuclear medicine, pediatrics and teleradiology, or transmitting images between sites. The practice serves 18 hospitals, and owns and operates 14 breast centers, three mobile mammography units, two vein centers, and several other vascular and interventional care sites. Charlotte Radiology also has a joint venture with Atrium Health, formerly Carolinas HealthCare System, operating five outpatient imaging centers and two mobile MRI units. Charlotte Radiology interprets or performs more than 1.5 million imagings and imaging-guided procedures each year.

New York-based Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, or WCAS, invests in technology and healthcare industries. WCAS describes its investment strategy as buying growth businesses, partnering with management teams and building value through operational improvements, internal growth and strategic acquisitions. The firm was founded in 1979 and has since organized 16 limited partnerships with total capital of more than $22 billion. WCAS is currently investing capital from a $3.3 billion PE fund and has a current portfolio of approximately 20 companies. WCAS's strategy is to partner with outstanding management teams and build value for its investors through a combination of operational improvements, internal growth initiatives and strategic acquisitions.

"Charlotte Radiology is the perfect founding partner for US Radiology Specialists," says Brian Regan, WCAS general partner. "Combining their commitment to clinical quality with our resources, business support and capital investment, US Radiology Specialists will be able to rapidly expand, enabling us to reach more patients across the country."

The US Radiology deal is just the latest example of a burgeoning area of middle-market M&A: physician and dental practices. Sweeping up smaller practices into consolidated businesses can make operations more efficient through economies of scale, reduce the cost of care and improve patient outcomes, beating out hospitals and other traditional care providers in the competition for the healthcare consumer. Recent deals in this area have included PE firm LLR Partners forming a Southeast U.S. eye care practices company, Eye Health America, starting with the acquisition of Eye Associates, Clemson Eye and Piedmont Surgery Center practices, with the goal of growing through more acquisitions and organically.

On a larger scale, the biggest health insurer in the U.S., UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH), recently agreed to buy DaVita Inc.’s hundreds of medical clinics for $4.9 billion.

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