Ac­tivist in­vestor seeks sale of top air am­bu­lance firm

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Bob Her­man

Voce Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, a San Fran­cisco-based hedge fund, has asked air am­bu­lance com­pany Air Meth­ods Corp. to con­sider selling it­self to a pri­vate eq­uity firm and avoid­ing the trans­parency of be­ing a public com­pany.

Voce sent a let­ter last week to the com­pany’s board of di­rec­tors. En­gle­wood, Colo.-based Air Meth­ods is the largest air med­i­cal trans­porta­tion provider in the coun­try. Voce owns al­most 5% of Air Meth­ods and said it is the com­pany’s sixth-largest share­holder.

The hedge fund said the com­pany’s public sta­tus has dam­aged its abil­ity to make money and has eaten away at its stock price.

Air Meth­ods re­lies heav­ily on gov­ern­ment pay­ers. Medi­care pa­tients rep­re­sent about 35% of its air am­bu­lance rides, and Med­i­caid ac­counts for about 25%. About 27% of trans­ports come from com­mer­cially in­sured pa­tients, who make up most of its over­all pa­tient rev­enue.

Be­cause Air Meth­ods is pub­licly traded, its fi­nan­cial re­sults “are avail­able for ev­ery­one—in­clud­ing the com­mer­cial (pay­ers) now re­spon­si­ble for the vast ma­jor­ity of its rev­enue—to dis­sect on a quar­terly ba­sis,” Voce said in the let­ter. The hedge fund said that di­min­ishes the com­pany’s pric­ing power.

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