NEW YORK (TheDeal) – Emdeon, the healthcare information company backed by two private equity powerhouses, is in the process of talking to banks about underwriting an initial public offering, according to two industry bankers.
Nashville-based Emdeon, which was taken private in a $3 billion leveraged buyout by New York PE firm Blackstone Group (BX) - Get Report and San Francisco PE firm Hellman and Friedman in August 2011, could be looking at a market capitalization of between $4.2 billion and $5.4 billion, based on current multiples in the space, if it goes through with an offering according to a third industry banker and an analyst.
No timetable was given by the bankers, and Emdeon and Hellman officials didn't respond to multiple requests for comment. Blackstone officials declined comment.
Emdeon boasts that it's the largest clinical health information network in the U.S. and a specialist in revenue cycle management.
Analysts said publicly traded companies in the healthcare information space, including Chicago-based Allscripts Healthcare Solutions (MDRX) - Get Report , and Cerner, of Kansas City, Mo., which provide services similar to Emdeon, are trading at between 14 times and 17 times Ebitda.
Allscripts, which provides revenue cycle management as well as a host of other healthcare IT functions, is trading at about 14 times its $203 million in trailing 12-month Ebitda.
Meanwhile, Cerner, which is set to close its $1.3 billion acquisition of Siemens Health Services sometime this first quarter, is trading at about 16 times its $1.13 million in Ebitda.
But deals such as Cognizant Technology Solutions' (CTSH) - Get Report September buy of Englewood Colo.-based TriZetto Group for $2.7 billion are happening for around 12 times Ebitda, according to one industry analyst who asked not to be named.
According to Bloomberg data, Emdeon has projected Ebitda of $390 million for fiscal 2014, ending Dec. 31. It has net debt of about $2 billion and cash and equivalents of $740 million, as of Sept. 30.
At the high end, the company, if public, would have an enterprise value of about $6.6 billion.
At the low end, it would have an enterprise value of $5.4 billion.
In terms of leverage, when compared to its peers, Emdeon is on the high end with a ratio of debt-to-projected Ebitda of about 5.2 times, based on $390 million in Ebitda. AllScripts and Cerner have leverage ratios of about five and one times, respectively.
Even so, Moody's Investors Service analyst Adam McLaren said Emdeon isn't in danger of breaking any debt covenants and still has room to grow.
When the company increased a term loan with Bank of America (BAC) - Get Report to $160 million on Dec. 3, following its Nov. 20 acquisition of Change Healthcare for $180 million, Moody's kept its corporate family rating unchanged at B2. It also upheld a Ba3 rating on Emdeon's senior secured credit facility.
The senior facility, which is a $1.3 billion term loan, is priced at 421 basis points and matures on Nov. 2, 2018.
Details of the $160 million loan weren't readily available.
The Moody's analyst said that Emdeon's acquisitions have helped bolster its product offerings and should provide solid cash flow growth.
"Over the past couple of years, they have made a few acquisitions," McLaren said. "They were good acquisitions in terms of [being] product-specific and helped get the company into new lines of business. Change, for instance, gets them exposure to the customer side of things and helps add to their traditional business of providing for provider and payer customers."
Other acquisitions Emdeon has made include its Dec. 15 deal to acquire AdminiSource Communications, a payment and communications platform, for $35 million from Waltham, Mass.-based Alegeus Technologies, and its June 23 buy of Santa Ana, Calif.-based Capario, a cloud-based financial management company, for $115 million.
The deals give Emdeon access to new types of technology that help build out its industry-leading data aggregation business.
This higher of level of data analytics, as opposed to just data aggregation, could be a boon for investors.
"If you look at that particular sector, it's been a little played," said Michael Cassata, a banker at Consillium Partners in Boston who works in the healthcare IT space. "Aggregation is old news. It's the analytics around what has been cultivated that is the piece that can really drive value."
Cassata recently sold a small data analytics company, Inflexxion, to a trio of private equity firms, led by Chicago's Periscope Equity. Inflexxion not only aggregates data surrounding pain medication but also provides feedback to customers — patients, doctors and pharmacautical companies — regarding the abuse tendencies resulting from taking those pain medications.
"A company that has a way of combining data that comes off of a claim form with some type of analytics is going to be a more valuable company for the next three to five years," Cassata said.
Together, the deals mark a continued push by investors to gain a piece of the burgeoning healthcare IT industry, which has benefited from the pressure the federal government is exerting on the medical community to adopt electronic medical records.
Deals in the healthcare IT proliferated 2014. Besides Cerner's August deal to acquire Siemens Health Services, there was Atlanta-based MedAssets (MDAS) completion of a $142 million acquisition of SG-2, a provider of healthcare business intelligence, on Aug. 13.