By Bill Rusteberg
UnitedHealth Group is set to become the controlling owner of the largest healthcare company in Brazil, a country whose health market is rapidly growing, in one of the most high-priced overseas deals by a U.S. private insurance company.
The largest American insurer is spending $4.9 billion to acquire 90 percent of Brazil’s Amil Participacoes, which has about 5 million members, a provider network of 3,300 hospitals and 44,000 doctors, and also owns 22 hospitals and about 50 clinics, reported the Associated Press.
By entering the Brazilian healthcare market, UnitedHealth can better access the country’s 200 million population, only 25 percent of which has private insurance, at a time when Brazilian leaders increasingly are turning to private companies to insure its citizens, Reuters reported.
“Brazil has emerged as a consistently growing and evolving market for private sector health benefits and services. Its growing economy, emerging middle class and progressive policies toward managed care make it a high potential growth market,” UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley said Monday in a statement.
“Combining Amil, the clear market leader serving an under-penetrated market of nearly 200 million people, with UnitedHealth Group’s experiences and capabilities developed over the last three decades is the most compelling growth and value creation opportunity we have seen in years,” he said.
Amil’s founder Edson Bueno and his partner Dulce Pugliese will retain their 10 percent ownership of Amil for at least five years. Amil also will invest about $470 million in UnitedHealth Group shares, which it also will hold for five years, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.