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Eyecare Group Receives ‘Substantial’ Investment, Acquires 2 Practice Groups

It’s planning for rapid growth over the next few years.

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DALLAS — Acuity Eyecare Group, a portfolio company of Riata Capital Group, has received a “substantial” equity investment from J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

The investment “positions Riata to achieve its stated plan of building Acuity to 200-300 locations over a three-to-five-year period through the acquisition of additional regional eyecare groups and independent optometry practices,” according to a press release.

Financial terms of the investment were not disclosed.

Acuity now owns nearly 90 locations across eight states under 10 different local brands, as well as a digital lab operation, The First Look Lab, located outside St. Louis. The company expects to exceed 100 locations in early 2019 based on eyecare groups under letter of intent and its pipeline of prospects.

In the same release, Riata announced that Acuity has acquired two new regional eyecare groups, totaling 18 locations:

  • ABBA Eye Care, based in Colorado Springs, CO, which operates 13 full-service optometry locations in Colorado SpringsPuebloAlamosaAuroraFountainGunnisonLa JuntaLamar and Pagosa Springs.
  • EyeCare Specialties, based in Lincoln, NE, which operates five full-service optometry locations in LincolnBeatrice and Fremont.

Eric Anderson, CEO of Acuity Eyecare Group, said: “We are very excited and privileged to add ABBA Eye Care and EyeCare Specialties to our growing Acuity family. Both brands share our values and core purpose as a caring community of local eye care providers. These practices are a great fit for Acuity given their focus on patient care and full-scope optometry. We are very pleased to have received such positive response in the marketplace, as eyecare groups and their providers are enthusiastic about partnering with Acuity.”

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Jeff Fronterhouse, managing partner of Riata, said: “We are excited to have J.P. Morgan Asset Management join us as an equity partner as we continue to build Acuity Eyecare Group into a market-leading eyecare platform. And the addition of ABBA Eye Care and EyeCare Specialties, two medically-oriented optometry groups, is a terrific way to finish out a strong 2018 for Acuity Eyecare Group. We look forward to continued growth and expansion in 2019.”

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Headlines

Alcon Makes $285M Acquisition

It bought PowerVision Inc., a medical device development company.

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FORT WORTH, TX – Alcon announced that it has acquired PowerVision Inc., a privately held, U.S.-based medical device development company focused on creating fluid-based intraocular lens implants.

Alcon paid $285 million to PowerVision at closing, with additional payments to be made based on regulatory and commercial milestones starting in 2023, according to a press release from Alcon, a division of Novartis.

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The acquisition “furthers Alcon’s commitment to bring this innovative, accommodating lens to cataract patients throughout the world,” the release stated.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Commercial availability of PowerVision’s IOL technology will be determined following significant additional development and clinical trials of the intraocular lens, according to the release.

“As the industry leader in cataract surgery, we’re eager to accelerate development of this potentially breakthrough accommodating lens technology,” said Michael Onuscheck, president of Global Business and Innovation. “By treating cataracts and restoring natural, continuous range of vision, this intraocular lens may be the preferred IOL for cataract surgery patients who desire spectacle independence.”

PowerVision’s lens design utilizes the eye’s natural accommodating response to transport fluid in the intraocular lens which is implanted in the eye’s capsular bag.

While most presbyopia-correcting intraocular lenses use a multifocal design that distributes light between different focal points, PowerVision’s fluid-based design creates a continuously variable monofocal lens, utilizing the natural contraction of the eye’s muscles, according to the release. This technology allows the patient to actively focus on objects, just as the natural crystalline lens does in a youthful eye, providing patients with a natural, continuous range of vision.

“We’re thrilled to officially join Alcon and its pioneering history of launching new innovation in the field of ophthalmology,” said Barry Cheskin, president and CEO and co-founder of PowerVision. “We look forward to bringing this innovative IOL technology to eye care providers and customers in the years ahead.”

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Marchon Eyewear Co-Founder Dies

Alfred Berg was 67.

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Alfred Berg, who co-founded Marchon Eyewear in 1983, has died, WWD reports.

He was 67.

In the beginning, Berg served as CEO and president of Marchon. In 2008, Berg and partners sold Marchon to VSP Global.

Berg “left an incredible legacy behind, having built one of the world’s greatest and largest eyewear companies, which still thrives today thanks to his vision and competitive spirit,” said Rob Lynch, board member of VSP Global, according to WWD. Lynch was leading the company when it bought Marchon.

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Nicola Zotta, current CEO of Marchon, was quoted saying, “Al will be greatly missed by all who knew him and we will honor his legacy by continuing to make Marchon the most admired global eyewear company in the world.”

Among Marchon’s licenses today are Calvin Klein and Chloé.

Read more at the WWD

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Eye Drug Firm Cuts Sales Jobs, Names Chairman and Interim CEO

37 employees are leaving.

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NovaBay Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focusing on commercializing prescription Avenova for the domestic eyecare market, announced that it is reducing its U.S. sales force and has made leadership changes.

It will go from 45 to 15 field sales representatives, according to a press release.

NovaBay said the cuts were part of “a strategic shift to deploy its sales representatives only in high-performing territories and territories it has identified as having significant prescription volume potential along with favorable health plan coverage to support Avenova per-unit revenue.”

The company said it would “continue to focus on contracting with additional specialty pharmacies as channel partners, which provide quality patient experiences at a negotiated price per prescription.”

In addition, NovaBay made the following personnel changes, all effective immediately:

  • Lead independent Director Paul E. Freiman, who joined the company’s board of directors in 2002, has been named chairman. Former Chairman Mark M. Sieczkarek will continue to serve as a director of the company.
  • Interim President and CEO, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Jack McGovern has resigned from the company.
  • Senior Vice President and General Counsel Justin Hall, who has been with the company since 2013, has assumed the positions of interim president and CEO. He will continue to serve as the company’s general counsel and corporate compliance officer.
  • Corporate Controller Jason Raleigh, who joined NovaBay in 2016, has assumed the positions of interim chief financial officer and treasurer.

“It is highly gratifying to have two qualified and seasoned professionals in Justin Hall and Jason Raleigh, both with NovaBay tenure, step into these key positions,” said Freiman. “We are highly appreciative of Mark Sieczkarek’s many contributions to our company as Chairman, in addition to his former roles as President and CEO. We are delighted that he will continue serving as a member of our Board.

“We appreciate the support of our current major stockholders who have pledged additional financial resources as we execute on our strategy.”

“We affirm our assertion that Avenova is the best product available to topically treat chronic bacterial infections that affect approximately 85% of the dry eye market,” said Hall. “Given the current reimbursement environment, we are pursuing a cost-efficient growth strategy by only deploying high-performing sales representatives in our best-producing and highest potential prescription volume territories while securing additional relationships within the specialty pharmacy channel. We expect this new strategy to accelerate our path to profitability. We thank the 37 employees who are leaving NovaBay as of March 15, 2019, and look forward to implementing our new U.S. commercial strategy for Avenova.”

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