Bridgepoint takes a £185m bite of UK dental business

One of Britain’s biggest private dental chains has been sold in a deal worth £185m.

Private equity firm Bridgepoint has acquired Oasis Healthcare from buyout group Duke Street Capital, marking its second takeover in six years.

Founded in 1996, Oasis has more than 200 dental practices across the UK and is also a major provider to the NHS.

It employs more than 2,000 people including 800 dentists.

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Bridgepoint said the chain’s financial performance had been “impressive”, despite the wider economic woes of the past five years.

The UK dental market is estimated to be worth around £7bn, with around 10,500 practices operated by private practitioners who have tapped into demand for paid-for care by an expanding ageing population.

Bridgepoint, whose other investments include fashion retailer Fat Face and sandwich chain
Pret A Manger, said it would plough £60m of investment into the business to fund its expansion.

Justin Ash, chief executive of Oasis, said the group is planning “on-going and rapid expansion”.

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Duke Street will invest some of its proceeds from the sale of Oasis to retain a minority stake in the group.

It took Oasis off the stock market for £77m in 2007.

Oasis has dental practices across Yorkshire in Leeds, Sheffield, Bingley, Askern, Hull, Bridlington, Keighley, Ripon, Heckmondwike, Pontefract, Doncaster, Settle and York.

The company provides both NHS and private care and offers general, cosmetic and specialist treatment.

Bridgepoint bought Leeds Bradford International Airport in March 2007 in a transaction worth £145.5m.

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Last year the private equity firm sold Leeds-based convenience food manufacturer Symington’s to a management buyout team backed by Intermediate Capital Group.

In the deal the management team took a 50.1 per cent stake in the business, with Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) holding a minority 49.9 per cent stake.

Symington’s produces convenience products under its own brands, under licence and for private label customers.

In recent years, the company has seen strong growth and has developed a portfolio of brands including Ragu, Chicken Tonight, Campbell’s, Ainsley Harriott, and Aunt Bessie’s.

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In 2010 Bridgepoint became a major shareholder in Care UK, a major provider of heath and social care services, following a management buyout.

Care UK recently bought Whitwood Care, which has a head office in Leeds and three care homes in Castleford.

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