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Ontario Teachers’ Agrees to Buy Stake in Heartland Dental

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Canada’s third-largest pension fund, agreed to buy a majority stake in Heartland Dental Care Inc. for an undisclosed price.

Heartland Dental Care founder Richard Workman will retain a “significant” minority stake together with management and employees, according to a statement today by the Effingham, Illinois-based dental service company. The deal values the company at about $1.3 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

“Our investment in Heartland Dental Care is supported by favorable fundamentals and demographics,” Jane Rowe, senior vice-president of Teachers’ Private Capital, said in the statement. “We have been impressed with their dedication to providing high-quality support services to dental practices that reduce the administrative burdens on dentists.”

The Toronto-based pension fund manager outbid traditional buyout funds run by KKR & Co., Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, and Apax Partners LLP, which had also pursued an acquisition of Heartland, said one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private. Heartland offers leadership training and support services to more than 500 dentists in 21 states, according to today’s statement, making it one of the largest U.S. dental practice management companies.

Calls to Ashley Buehnerkemper, of closely held Heartland, weren’t immediately returned. Representatives of the private-equity firms declined to comment.

Teachers’ Investments

CHS Capital, a Chicago-based private equity firm, bought a stake of undisclosed size in Heartland in 2008.

In addition to investing in private-equity funds managed by others, Teachers’, with C$117.1 billion under management as of Dec. 31, makes its own direct investments in private equity, usually alongside a buyout firm. Teachers’ has disclosed only two acquisitions worth more than $1 billion without a co-investor, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Those were the 2007 acquisition of marine container terminals in Canada and the U.S. from Oriental Overseas International Ltd. for about $2.35 billion, and the 2000 purchase of Cadillac Fairview Corp., a commercial real estate developer, for C$2.3 billion ($1.56 billion at the time).

Jefferies Group Inc. and Moelis & Co. are advising Heartland.

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