Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Private equity firms buy Medline in largest buyout since the financial crisis

When news broke last month that groups of buyout firms were bidding around $30 billion to buy medical supplies firm Medline Industries, we speculated that it could kick off a new "Golden Age" of private equity, an era that directly preceded (but didn't cause) the financial crisis.

Driving the news: Medline has picked its patrons, a consortium led by The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman. But the details make this feel more like a growth equity deal on steroids than a mega-LBO of yesteryear.


Background: The Illinois-based company is massive, with around $17.5 billion in annual sales. Its products include everything from wheelchairs to PPE to those blue and pink baby blankets that are ubiquitous in hospital nurseries.

  • Some private equity firms have been gently kicking its tires for years — going back to when Medtronic put its own medical supplies business on the block in 2017 — but the actual process got underway earlier this year when Medline hired Goldman Sachs to find it a buyer.
  • Several big-name firms expressed interest, but the second and final round of bidding only included the winning group and Canadian investor Brookfield Asset Management.
  • Every suitor needed to spend extra time assessing what parts of Medline's 2020 financials were pandemic-specific, and which parts were sustainable. For example, it sold tons of PPE last year, but many fewer surgical supplies.

What's the same: Despite some protestations from sources close to this transaction, it is most certainly a "club deal." It might not have six or seven firms participating, but three counts (particularly once you add in LP co-investors). There's a bunch of leverage, even though not nearly as lopsided as some pre-crisis deals.

What's different: No changes to management, this isn't a take-private and Medline's founding family will remain the company's single largest shareholder.

  • Everyone I spoke with said the investment thesis is entirely about growth.
  • Some of that is product line expansion via acquisition, but more is geographic. The vast majority of Medline's business is currently in the U.S., but the PE firms want it to go hard at hospital customers in Europe and Japan.

Context: This seems to be the largest buyout since the financial crisis, and the largest-ever healthcare LBO. But put giant asterisks next to both of those, given the massive inflation of capital markets dollars.

  • Hospital operator HCA, for example, was taken private for $21 billion and is now valued at north of $70 billion.
  • There doesn't seem to be a pipeline of other Medline-sized deals, per conversations with several mega-buyout investors, which means this is unlikely to kickstart a gold rush. Instead, expect big PE deals going forward to be more in the $10 billion to $15 billion range.

Look ahead: Medline's family owners likely could have gotten a higher price in the public markets, but wanted to remain private. In the end, though, they may just be delaying the inevitable, as the PE buyers will want an exit and there isn't a strategic with enough scale to buy Medline.

Reports: Trump DOJ subpoenaed Apple for records of WH counsel Don McGahn

Apple told former Trump administration White House counsel Don McGahn last month that the Department of Justice subpoenaed information about accounts of his in 2018, the New York Times first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: Although it's unclear why the DOJ took the action, such a move against a senior lawyer representing the presidency is highly unusual.

Keep reading... Show less

Pelosi demands Barr and Sessions testify on data subpoenas she says go "beyond Richard Nixon"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNN Sunday that former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions should testify before Congress on reports that the Trump-era Department of Justice seized Democrats' and journalists' data records.

Driving the news: DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Friday an internal investigation into the matter, and Pelosi expressed disbelief to CNN's Dana Brash at assertions that neither Barr nor Sessions knew of probes into lawmakers.

Keep reading... Show less

Shipping giant CEO says business have to avoid global politics

The CEO of the world's largest container-shipping company cautions that international firms have to be careful of taking political stances.

  • What they're saying: "We cannot run a global business if we start to have views on politics in every single country that we are in," Maersk CEO Søren Skou tells "Axios on HBO."
Keep reading... Show less

Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Clark defends overture to Democrats

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Suzanne Clark told me on "Axios on HBO" that the business group was right to endorse vulnerable House Democrats last year, despite the flak that resulted from Republicans.

  • Clark, who took over the top job in March, said those House Democrats "had really helped push business's number one priority, which was the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, over the finish line."
  • "All of the Republicans that we work with on tax, on regulation — those people are really, really important to us," she added: "So we have to be willing to have a different coalition on every issue."
Keep reading... Show less

Nuclear watchdog: “Essential” to have deal with Iran

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency tells "Axios on HBO" that it's "essential" to have a nuclear deal with Iran because otherwise "we are flying blind."

Driving the news: Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi sat down with "Axios on HBO" at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, ahead of Iran's June 18 presidential election and a June 24 extension on negotiations seeking to restore curtailed surveillance of Iranian nuclear sites and salvage the 2015 deal.

Keep reading... Show less

U.N. ambassador Thomas-Greenfield sees tough Putin summit

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told me on "Axios on HBO" that President Biden will be candid, frank — and tough — during this week's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • "The president will make clear to the Russians that they cannot harbor cyber terrorists and criminals in their country and not be held accountable for it," she added. "And they need to take the responsibility for dealing with this issue."
Keep reading... Show less

Dems’ go-it-alone approach faces big hurdles as left’s frustrations spill over

If a bipartisan group of lawmakers fails to strike a deal on the infrastructure proposal it's negotiating with the White House, ramming through a package using the partisan reconciliation process isn't a guaranteed solution.

Why it matters: Getting 51 Democratic votes would be a long, uphill battle. And moderates within the party are balking at the cost of President Biden's spending — even as progressives openly lament that the "transformational" change they seek is slipping out of reach.

Keep reading... Show less

America's U.N. ambassador: "I will always push for women to be part of negotiation teams"

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has argued over her 39-year diplomatic career that educating and empowering women and girls is an investment in peace and security for their nations.

  • "I will always push for women to be part of negotiation teams," she told me in the State Department Treaty Room, during an interview for "Axios on HBO."
  • "I notice ... when they're not in the room. ... Sometimes I'm the only one," she added with a laugh. "And I will call it out."
Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories