Charterhouse rejects buyout bid for Tunstall Healthcare, considers refinancing

[grow_thumb image=”×294-55535.gif” thumb_width=”150″ /]Breaking News. Some long-awaited updates on the ongoing rumors regarding Tunstall Healthcare and a potential sale surfaced on Bloomberg late yesterday. Citing ‘people familiar with the matter’, Charterhouse Capital Partners, the owner and main investor, rejected a £300 million (US$425 million) buyout offer from private equity investment firm Triton Partners and reportedly will seek refinancing as an option if a buyout offer cannot be accomplished. However, the same sources state that talks are ongoing including with Triton and other potential investors and that no decisions have been made.

Triton is an investment firm registered in St Helier, Jersey and with locations through Europe, China and New York. It represents around 100 institutional investors and concentrates in investments in medium-sized businesses in northern Europe, Italy and Spain. In looking at their sector mix on their website, health is a small slice of their interests under consumer. This Editor speculates that they were seeking to expand this area, and perhaps sensed a bargain, because Tunstall by no stretch could be considered ‘medium-sized’.

Another interesting tidbit is that the cited sources indicated that before a refinancing, the company might need to be deleveraged. There is about £230 million in debt excluding shareholder loans and bank debt, which if included would bring the total to an eye-blinking net debt of £1.2 billion. Charterhouse purchased Tunstall in 2008 for £530 million. Current sales are £212 million for the fiscal year ending in September 2015, down from £215.2 million in 2014 according to a filing with Companies House (see 4 Dec 15 PDF in the filing history tab).

Tunstall’s statement: “Tunstall’s turnaround plan is well advanced and we are seeing improved performance,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “Our focus is on delivering for our customers and helping them exploit the possibilities that new digital technologies present.”

This Editor’s reflection is that Tunstall is in the situation that nearly every company in telehealth and in health tech is in–a confusing market with segments as fine as a garlic clove sliced with a razor, too many players, too many segments with too many names, all chasing not enough money whether private or government.

Certainly more to come. Hat tip re the article to a Reader with long-standing experience in the telehealth field.


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