ECI Partners exits healthcare outsourcer

With this latest exit the firm’s seventh £175m fund has been fully realised, generating a 3.1x return multiple to investors.

ECI Partners, a London-based private equity firm, has sold healthcare outsourcer Harmoni to CareUK, it said in a statement. The transaction value was undisclosed. 

With this divestment, ECI’s £175 million seventh fund is fully realised, generating a 3.1x return multiple, the firm said. 

The return multiple for the divestment was undisclosed, but Sean Whelan, a managing director at ECI Partners, told Private Equity International the firm was “very pleased with the outcome … We generated a significant multiple of money over what was quite a long period of time for the entire investment”.

Harmoni was a spinout from WCI Group, in which ECI invested in 2002. In 2006, WCI Group was split into two companies, WCI Consulting, which focused on compliance and patient safety, and Harmoni, an out of hours care provider.

“At the time, we felt that the two businesses were very separate in terms of the strategies and profiles so it made sense to run them as two separate businesses, with separate management teams but with a common shareholding, which was our shareholding,” he said. In January 2011, ECI sold WCI Consulting to Take Solutions, an Indian listed technology business.

Healthcare is one of the five sectors ECI invests in, alongside TMT, business services, industrials and the consumer sector. “The fact that the market has been opened up to competition means it’s creating opportunities for companies to deliver better quality at lower cost and that’s a definite benefit to the healthcare system in the UK. As a growth investor we clearly see the potential for growth opportunities within the healthcare sector,” he said.

However from its current fund, the £437 million ECI 9, the firm hasn’t made any acquisitions in the healthcare space. “We made eight investments in that fund to date and none of them are healthcare related actually, but that doesn’t mean we don’t look for opportunities [in that sector],” Whelan said. Fund 9, a 2008 vintage, is currently more than 50 percent deployed.