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Brooke Sutherland

UnitedHealth Shows Its Dealmaking Smarts Again

The health insurer's latest purchase fits a winning pattern of buying to diversify.
Photographer: DAWN VILLELLA/Bloomberg

When it comes to M&A, UnitedHealth Group Inc. is one of the health-insurance industry's most prolific dealmakers. Its latest purchase is a reminder that it's among the smartest in that category as well.

The company agreed on Tuesday to acquire Advisory Board Co.'s health-care analytics, research and consulting operations for about $1.3 billion including debt. The merger is part of a two-way deal that will also see private equity firm Vista Equity Partners purchase Advisory Board's education arm for $1.55 billion. It's another win for Elliott Management Corp., which disclosed a stake in Advisory Board earlier this year and sought talks on strategic options.