Billionaire-backed B.C. firm acquires private Ottawa medical clinic ExecHealth for $12.6M

Sanjay Shah
Sanjay Shah

The go-to health-care clinic for many of the biggest movers and shakers in Ottawa’s business community has been sold to a B.C.-based firm backed by one of the world’s richest men.

ExecHealth, a private clinic launched in 2005 by local entrepreneur Sanjay Shah, was officially acquired this week by Vancouver’s WELL Health Technologies in a cash-and-share deal worth up to $12.6 million if the Ottawa firm hits certain earnings targets.

Shah told OBJ on Tuesday that the offer from WELL “came out of the blue” after another clinic owner introduced him to the B.C. firm’s executive team.

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“They really weren’t on my radar, per se, and I wasn’t shopping the business around,” he said. “A lot of what they’re trying to do and what we’re trying to do seemed to really align.”

Publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, WELL Health has emerged as a major force in the Canadian health-tech scene. The company owns and operates 27 medical clinics across the country and sells digital record-keeping, billing and cybersecurity solutions to more than 2,000 health-care facilities in Canada and the United States.

WELL Health is also known for its aggressive M&A plays. The company recently announced an equity offering worth more than $300 million to help finance its acquisition of fellow publicly traded Vancouver health-tech firm CRH Medical ​– a deal backed by a group of investors that includes billionaire Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka-shing. 

Big-name clients

Shah – whose clinic boasts a client roster of more than 1,000 individuals, including some of the best-known names in the Ottawa business community – said potential suitors had approached him in the past, but the overtures never amounted to anything.

This time was different. ExecHealth and WELL Health began talking in early January and had a deal hammered out within just a few months.

“They weren’t just blowing smoke,” said Shah, an OBJ Forty Under 40 recipient in 2006. “These guys know what they’re doing.”

ExecHealth, which operates out of a space on Albert Street, is known for serving professionals such as lawyers, CEOs and other top executives who are looking for concierge-level medical care. 

“Medicine has gotten too complex for a single GP to know everything.”

Patients typically pay an annual membership fee and in return get a higher level of care and service. Doctors perform annual physical examinations of two to four hours long, allowing them to better detect early signs of illness and disease before they develop into serious health problems.

While the company started out providing comprehensive health assessments, it has since expanded into a full-service multidisciplinary clinic with an on-site staff of seven family physicians as well as medical specialists, psychologists, physiotherapists and registered dietitians.  

“Medicine has gotten too complex for a single GP to know everything,” Shah explained. “Our scope of practice is broader.”

ExecHealth posted revenue of more than $3 million in its most recent fiscal year ending Feb. 28, more than two-thirds of which was generated from recurring membership fees. 

Shah, who will remain CEO under the new owners, said the deal will allow ExecHealth to remain at the forefront of health-care technology.

“We want to be cutting-edge, and that takes deep pockets,” he said. “That’s what WELL brings to the table.”

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