Varsity Healthcare Partners Acquire Katzen Eye Group

May 12, 2014

CEO Michael Fricke Recruited to Lead EyeCare Services Partners in Partnership With the Leadership of Katzen Eye Group

LOS ANGELES — May 12, 2014 — Varsity Healthcare Partners (VHP), a healthcare services-focused private equity investment firm, announced today that in partnership with management, it has acquired Katzen Eye Group, one of the nation’s largest vertically integrated ophthalmologic and optometric services practices, and together will form EyeCare Services Partners Holdings LLC (ESP). ESP will consolidate locally dominant, clinically differentiated vision care services practices and affiliated surgical centers in selected geographies, leveraging the technology platform, managerial infrastructure, and clinical processes of Katzen Eye Group. VHP is making the ESP investment from its Varsity Healthcare Partners I vehicle. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We are looking forward to VHP’s energy, resources, and domain expertise, as we accelerate our growth path in the next few years.”

“We are excited to partner with the Katzen organization and to work closely with Brett Katzen, CEO Mike Fricke and the rest of the ESP leadership team as we believe the opportunity to replicate Katzen Eye Group’s market presence and vertical integration in other geographies is imminent, and anticipate executing our consolidation plan at high velocity,” stated David Alpern, a partner with VHP. “As one of the true leaders in the ophthalmologic and optometric services space, Katzen was a natural choice to serve as ESP’s core platform for growth, given Katzen’s demonstrated clinical quality and world-class technology and managerial infrastructure. We have long been compelled by the attributes of the vision care services vertical, given the attractive secular growth (catalyzed by the aging U.S. population), the defensibility of patient demand across economic cycles, the diversity of revenue opportunity per patient, and the attractive consolidation economics.”

ESP will be based in Baltimore, Maryland and be led by CEO Michael Fricke, who was formerly the CEO of Sante Pediatric Services, OrthoRx, and served in various leadership positions during his tenure at Lincare Holdings, as well as talented executives from Katzen Eye Group, including:

  • Dr. Brett Katzen, who will become ESP’s chief medical officer;
  • Richard Edlow, who will serve as ESP’s president; and,
  • Melissa Pitchford, who will be chief financial officer.

ESP will absorb the managerial operations of the Katzen Eye Group and, in partnership with Varsity Healthcare Partners, continue to consolidate and provide growth capital and managerial infrastructure to targeted independent ophthalmologic and optometric practices in Maryland, Delaware and other and selected geographies.

“The opportunity to work with Varsity Healthcare Partners was very compelling given the depth of their expertise in the healthcare market, the clarity of their specific mission within this practice area, and the collaborative working environment and high degree of enthusiasm the Varsity team brings to this venture,” stated Dr. Brett Katzen, president of Katzen Eye Group. “We are looking forward to VHP’s energy, resources, and domain expertise, as we accelerate our growth path in the next few years.”

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About Katzen Eye Group

Based in Baltimore (MD), Katzen Eye Group is a leading vertically integrated ophthalmologic and optometric services practice, providing comprehensive and differentiated quality care utilizing its broad network of central Maryland-based clinical locations and outpatient surgery centers as well as a deep subspecialty-trained team of ophthalmologists and talented optometrists. Additionally, Katzen Eye Group’s operations benefit from a world-class managerial infrastructure, including cutting-edge practice management technology, affording outstanding visibility and predictability at the clinic level, and centralization of all core operational functions, so as to provide clinicians with freedom to focus their time and energy on patient care at the local level. For more information please visit:

About Varsity Healthcare Partners

Varsity Healthcare Partners (VHP) is a Los Angeles and Stamford (CT) based private investment firm serving primarily family and small institutional investors by originating, acquiring, and growing market-leading healthcare provider platforms within selected non-discretionary and/or cost saving healthcare verticals. VHP’s principals bring extensive healthcare domain expertise and dedicate substantial time and resources to each management partnership. The firm seeks to combine these unique resources and VHP’s unique equity capital towards accelerating the growth of each VHP healthcare provider platform.

For More Information Contact:Muirfield Partners
Mickey Mandelbaum
Maya Pogoda
(310) 785-0810

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