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February 15, 2017

LifePoint’s new M&A chief, Jeff Seraphine, brings buying discipline

LifePoint’s new M&A chief, Jeff Seraphine, brings buying discipline

Dave Barkholz | Modern Healthcare

LifePoint Health’s new chief development officer says the company will be judicious when targeting hospitals to acquire this year and will not make acquisitions simply for the sake of growth.

Jeff Seraphine, 47, was named the head of acquisitions this month, taking on a role that Chief Financial Officer Leif Murphy held until he left LifePoint in October to become CEO of physician staffing giant TeamHealth.

Seraphine had been president of LifePoint Eastern Group of hospitals.

In other promotions this month, LifePoint named Melissa Waddey president of ambulatory and operations services. And Victor Giovanetti was moved from president of the Western Group to Seraphine’s former post, while Robert Klein took over for Giovanetti in the Western Group from his prior position as chief operating officer of LifePoint’s Central Group.

Seraphine said LifePoint expects to be a bit busier on the acquisitions front this year than last. In 2016, LifePoint concentrated on absorbing several hospitals bought the year before. He said LifePoint is eyeing some hospitals, though how many ultimately depends on which are the best moves.

“We have a strong balance sheet and healthy cash flow,” he said of LifePoint’s ability to do deals.

Brentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint is the nation’s fourth-largest investor-owned hospital company. It operates hospitals on 72 campuses, including 14 through a joint venture with Duke University Health System known as Duke LifePoint. LifePoint posted revenue of $5.2 billion in 2015.

LifePoint’s acquisition profile is to buy not-for-profit hospitals that are the sole or strong providers in their markets and raise their margins from the low to mid-single digits to double digits over three years. This growth is accomplished through uniform business practices and investment in building out patient access points, Seraphine said

On occasion, LifePoint will buy hospitals owned by other for-profits if they have strong strategic importance such as providing geographic reach, he said. That was the case in late 2015 when Duke LifePoint bought two hospitals in North Carolina, Duke’s home market, from Tenet Healthcare. The hospitals are 137-bed Central Carolina Hospital in Sanford and 355-bed Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory.

Less likely would be a big acquisition of a nonhospital provider, such as an ambulatory surgery center chain, Seraphine said. That kind of target would have to enhance care in the markets where LifePoint already operates to provide the tactical value that LifePoint requires, he said. 

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