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Private equity firm buys stake in nurse staffing company

The Associated Press

DENVER — A New York private equity firm will pay $113.5 million for a majority stake in U.S. Nursing Corp., a nurse staffing company.

Under the equity and debt deal, Clarion Capital Partners will control an 80 percent stake, leaving the remainder to management and previous owners.

Privately held U.S. Nursing, which provides temporary nurses to cover hospitals during strikes, went on sale following the death of founder Daniel Mordecai last June. None of his heirs wanted to assume control of the Denver-based company, and the deal allows them to cash out of the company, said chief executive Gregory Mikkelsen, who will keep his job.

“If you look at the shortage of nurses across the country, you can see that 10 percent to 11 percent of the positions in hospitals are unfilled to date,” said Marc Utay, a managing partner at Clarion. “This was an industry where the demand for its service would do nothing but go up.”

The company provides nurses to fill vacancies in about 95 percent of nurse strikes, charging up to three times what permanent nurses earn.

Its main asset is a database of more than 30,000 nurses willing to fill vacancies on short notice.

Clarion hopes to expand the company, in part by buying complementary health care staffing companies.

“Technology that is driving radiology is creating a lot of demand for people,” Mikkelsen said. “It’s an area where we can take our existing platform and leverage it.”

U.S. Nursing employs 150 permanent workers, with 130 of them in Denver, spokeswoman Sheryl Hinton said. Five years ago, the firm had only 35 permanent staff.

The company’s annual revenues grew from $44 million in 2000 to about $230 million in 2002.