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United Surgical to Be Acquired for $1.4 Billion in Private Equity Deal

United Surgical Partners International , which runs short-stay surgery centers, has agreed to be bought out by a private equity firm for $1.8 billion, the company said on Monday.

United Surgical will be acquired by a unit of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, the company's founding shareholder, for $31.05 a share, a premium of 13.4% above its closing price on Jan. 5.

Welsh, Carson will also assume certain debt obligations of United Surgical, whose shares rose 13 percent in morning trading.

Dallas-based United Surgical has stakes in or operates 141 surgery centers in the United States. The centers typically perform specialized outpatient procedures. Such facilities are stealing patients away from general-service hospitals, which face steeper costs and generally must care for those without health insurance.

The deal follows the massive $21 billion private-equity buyout of hospital chain HCA last year.

United Surgical said the transaction is likely to close in the second quarter.

Ryan Beck analyst Robert Mains said he sees United Surgical as a special case, given its long-standing relationship with Welsh, Carson, and he does not expect other surgical companies
such as AmSurg and Symbion to become buyout candidates.

However, he added that if Welsh, Carson decided to expand its surgery business, Symbion would be the more likely candidate, given the similarity of the United Surgical and Symbion business models.

Welsh, Carson is focused on investments in the health-care services, information and business-services industries.

United Surgical said it has been advised by JP Morgan Securities and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

Welsh, Carson had Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking and Lehman Brothers as M&A advisers, and Ropes & Gray LLP, as counsel.

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