WALGREEN’S SUBSIDIARY BUYS MEDICAL CARE CHAIN
Chicago-based VillageMD, an affiliate of Walgreens Boots Alliance, the drug chain’s British division, is buying Summit Health, a chain of 340 urgent and primary care clinics in the U.S. northeast and Oregon.
The new entity will boast about 680 walk-in locations, the companies said.
Walgreen’s will put up $3.5 billion and own 53 percent of the new, expanded VillageMD. Evernorth, a health care management conglomerate owned by the Cigna health insurance company, will invest an undisclosed amount and become a minority stakeholder.
The deal, involving debt and equity, is valued at about $9 billion, according to the Financial Times.
In 2019, Summit Health merged with CityMD, the latter owned by private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which invested $600 million in the combination.
From the new sale, Warburg Pincus will count profits in the billions, the FT said.
About 1,000 physicians own almost half of Summit’s equity; they also will profit handsomely.
Since COVID’s arrival, health care has been a special focus for takeovers.
In August, Amazon paid $3.9 billion for OneMedical, which gives subscribers access to physicians in exchange for a monthly fee. Soon after, CVS Health bought Signify Health, an in-home care network.
Private equity giant Blackstone bought Team Health, a hospital staffing service, in 2016. In 2018, takeover company KKR put up $9.9 billion emergency room operator Envision Healthcare.
Warburg Pincus has specialized in medical deals, having made $14 billion in purchases, including Alignment Healthcare, an on-demand service firm, and Bond Vet, a chain caring for pets’ health in the U.S. Northeast.
CANADIAN INVESTORS FLOCKED TO RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE TOO
In Canada as well as the U.S., investors flocked to residential real estate during the COVID War, snapping up homes in prime areas to lease to renters at premium prices.
In 2020, the number of Ontario firms owning 100 or more houses in the metro Ottawa area rose to 345, according to the Canadian Housing Statistics Program, 15 percent more than in 2018 when the program began collecting the data.
At least 59,000 homes were owned by smaller operations, up 7.4 percent from 2018, but the number of firms owning at least 100 houses is the fastest-growing category of investor in residential real estate.
The trend is even stronger in British Columbia, where the number of businesses owning at least 100 homes has grown to 85, a 21.4-percent increase during the period.
At least 26,400 homes in the province are corporate-owned.
Across Canada, there was no change in the number of homes owned by corporations in 2019 from the year before.
The number began surging in 2020 as demand for apartments shot up and Canada’s central bank slashed interest rates to prop up the economy during the COVID era.
TRENDPOST: During the COVID War years, Canada’s housing prices bolted up more than 50 percent compared to 2019. The median price set a record last February of C$869,300 at the time, about $693,000 in U.S. dollars.
As it was in the U.S., private investors’ aggressive entry into the market for private homes has been a key factor driving up housing prices.
We have documented the trend extensively: as home prices rose, private equity firms began snapping them up, often snatching a house from a family that already had made an offer.
The firms then rent the houses back to the failed buyers at premium rental rates.
This tactic has reconfigured the housing market for years, and perhaps generations, to come.
Renters are paying top rates because the U.S. is in the midst of a long-term housing shortage. Materials, labor, and especially land to build new houses are in acute short supply.
TREND FORECAST: Demand for rental homes will keep prices high, making it harder and harder for renters to save enough cash to make a down payment on a home for which the price is now at record levels.
This is likely to create at least one generation of renters instead of homeowners, depriving these households of the main way in which Americans build and store wealth: by creating equity through home ownership.
To trace the development of this trend and explore its meaning, see our past coverage:
● “Real Estate Investors Choosing Single-Family Rental Homes” (13 Oct 2020)
● “Invitation Homes to Buy $1 Billion Worth of Houses This Year” (1 Jun 2021)
● “Rents for Single-Family Homes Reach 15-Year High” (1 Jun 2021)
● “Blackstone Extends Reach Into Housing Market” (29 Jun 2021)
● “Private Equity Partners Target $5 Billion in Rental Houses” (27 Jul 2021)
● “Residential Rental Rates Skyrocketing” (10 Aug 2021)
● “Rents Soar as Investors Buy Properties and Raise Rates” (14 Sep 2021)
● “Investors Now Targeting Off-Campus Student Housing” (14 Sep 2021)
● “Rents Soaring. What’s Next?” (21 Sep 2021)
● “Single-Family Rental Homes: Investments Galore” (16 Nov 2021)
● “Home Sales Up as Money Gang Gobbles Up Houses” (23 Nov 2021)
● “Rents on the Rise” (11 Jan 2022)
In trying to squeeze every possible dollar from renters, private equity firms and single-family-home landlords will spark outcries among regulators and, ultimately, from renters no longer able to afford to live anywhere and who create a backlash movement.
New York resident Jimmy McMillan was an early example, running for mayor of New York City in 2019 on a platform that “the rent is too damn high.”