By Carl O'Donnell and Greg Roumeliotis
(Reuters) - Private equity firm BC Partners LLP is in advanced talks to acquire U.S. surgical center operator National Surgical Hospitals Inc, in a deal that could value it at close to $1 billion, including debt, people familiar with the matter said.
The acquisition would underscore the continued appetite of buyout firms for deals in the healthcare sector, despite uncertainty over the future of the U.S. Affordable Care Act and government insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
BC Partners has outbid other private equity firms in the auction for National Surgical Hospitals, and is now negotiating final terms with the company's owner, buyout firm Irving Place Capital, the people said on Monday. It is still possible that these negotiations end without a deal, the people cautioned.
BC Partners declined to comment, while National Surgical Hospitals and Irving Place Capital did not respond to requests for comment.
Founded in 1998, Chicago-based National Surgical Hospitals now spans 20 surgical facilities in 12 states. Irving Place acquired National Surgical Hospitals in 2011 for an undisclosed amount.
Under Irving Place's ownership, National Surgical Hospitals made three add-on acquisitions, including Savannah, Georgia-based Optim Healthcare in 2015.
The majority of the company's revenue comes from surgical centers that treat the musculoskeletal system. About 20 percent comes from a variety of other operations, including for the eyes and the gastrointestinal tract.
Based in London, BC Partners focuses on buyouts in Europe and the United States. It has several investments in the healthcare sector, including Elysium Healthcare and Pharmathen.
(Reporting by Carl O'Donnell and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay)