Billionaire Fernandez's private equity firm buys health care business

Published Thursday, October 11, 2018
by Brian Bandell

MBF Healthcare Partners, the Coral Gables-based private equity fund chaired by billionaire Miguel “Mike” B. Fernandez, has acquired behavioral health company Acorn Health as it pursues a new strategy. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

MBF also announced an investment in a dental care provider.

With a focus mostly on health care, Fernandez’s MBF has been among the most successful private equity firms in Florida at acquiring businesses, growing them and then capitalizing on the results. Companies that MBF has previously invested in and sold include CarePlus Health Plans, CAC-Florida Medical Centers, Atlantic Dental, Navarro Discount Pharmacies, Nutri-Force Nutrition and Simply Healthcare. It sold the latter company to Anthem for nearly $1 billion in 2015.

“After selling over $1 billion in assets a few years ago, I and the team have been very careful in directing our energy and capital,” Fernandez said. “Patience is a gift that we have learned to embrace with the discipline of embracing and managing risk. As I often tell my children, ’the fear of taking risks is the greatest risk of all.’ Risk has to be manageable with expediency.”

Instead of investing in HMOs and health plans, MBF has chosen to invest in health care providers such as Coral Gables-based Acorn Health. The company provides clinical services for children with autism.

“Our new national presence allows us to bring ABA [applied behavioral analysis] services to thousands of families in need,” said Vicki Kroviak, Acorn Health's new CEO. “We’ve sought out and teamed up with clinical leaders in the industry. It is with their partnership, as well as the hundreds of clinicians currently employed, that we intend to build a best-in-class clinical delivery network.” 

Fernandez said MBF has acquired 14 medical practices in South and Central Florida over the past year.

Meanwhile, MBF said it invested an undisclosed amount of money in Rose Dental Group, of Austin, Texas. It has over 40 dentists and hygienists. MBF also formed Strive Dental Management in partnership with Rose Dental co-founders Dr. Rollin Sarradet and Dr. Sergio Escobar in order to expand their platform nationwide.


Strive Dental is a dental service organization (DSO), which provides business management and support services to dental practices.

“Our thesis is to partner with evolving groups of entrepreneurial dentists and build a new differentiated dentist and patient focused DSO platform,” said Preston Brice, managing director of MBF. “The dentists at Rose Dental are truly market leaders, with 23 years of providing superior clinical care to their patients.”

Mike Vaughan, formerly the COO of American Dental Partners, will lead the DSO initiative for MBF.