Lucier, 54, is partnering with Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR to form the new company, Corza Health, in San Diego. GTCR holds stakes in Regatta Medical, which owns laser micro manufacturer Resonetics and Sotera Health along with life sciences, technology, and financial and business services companies.
A board member at San Diego-based NuVasive since 2013, Lucier stepped in as temporary CEO of the spinal device company following the ouster of CEO Alex Lukianov over violations of the company’s internal expense account and personnel policies. Lucier was named permanent CEO in May 2015 and grew that company’s revenue from approximately $775 million to more than $1 billion during his three-plus years at the helm.
Lucier joined NuVasive’s board in 2013 but said in an interview with Medical Design & Outsourcing that heading NuVasive was never his goal. From 2003 to 2014, he was chairman & CEO of Life Technologies, a global life sciences company whose revenue grew revenue from approximately $700 million to nearly $4 billion under his leadership. Lucier had also led Life Technologies’ predecessor company, Invitrogen, through organic and M&A that integrated more than 20 add-on acquisitions and leading the 2008 merger of Invitrogen with Applied Biosystems, which rebranded as Life Technologies. The company had 50,000 products and 12,000 employees when it was sold to Thermo Fisher Scientific in 2014 for approximately $15 billion.
Lucier also said he has known officials at GTCR for seven years and had been in talks with them about forming a new company for about five months. “We have three areas of interest right now,” Lucier said of Corza Health. “One is the broader life sciences space. Second would be medical technology/devices and third would be the overall supply chain of healthcare.”
He’s excited about getting back into the M&A space, particularly now. Lucier sees private equity as shifting from a period focused on selling companies to one of buying them.
“I think the time is good for assembling different organizations,” he said. “When you look at a lot of the change going on in medicine today, whether it’s diagnostic or tools or incredible new drugs or even using life science technology for industrial or environmental uses, that whole background in Life Technologies was essential and we’re really just getting going in that field.”
As for NuVasive, Lucier said analysts’ recent disappointment with earnings owed more to the company’s providing inaccurate guidance than to actual results. “That’s where they got frustrated,” Lucier said. “The overall revenue growth and financial improvement were well above the industry averages.”
He did not comment on recent speculation that Smith & Nephew was considering acquiring NuVasive for $3 billion, but did say NuVasive is on track to introduce its first robotic surgical device — an addition to its Pulse platform — in September 2019 at the North American Spine Society annual meeting. The company is pursuing FDA clearance for the device as it joins an increasingly crowded and evolving sector of medtech.
“I don’t think it will be crowded for what we’re doing, which we believe is completely different and novel and follows NuVasive’s heritage of being a disruptor in the space,” Lucier said.
Lucier’s NuVasive board chairmanship expires in May 2020, and he said he will re-evaluate whether to remain on that board. “I have a lot of ownership in NuVasive, literally and figuratively,” he said. “Also, we have a new CEO who’s a first-time CEO and I think he can benefit from a guy like me who has been CEO of a public company for 15-plus years.”
Lucier also likes team at Corza Health, who bring expertise in life sciences, medtech and the overall healthcare industry. Brian Berning will join Corza Health as CFO, having most recently served as CFO at GreatCall, a GTCR-funded connected health and personal emergency response services company that Best Buy acquired in October 2018 for approximately $800 million.
The formation of Corza Health builds on GTCR’s “deep sector expertise,” said GTCR managing director Ben Daverman in a prepared statement.
“Leveraging our track record and specialized industry focus, we believe there are a number of compelling industry trends that we are excited to capitalize on,” Daverman said. “We are actively looking for acquisitions, ranging from founder-led businesses to large corporate carve-outs. Greg and Brian provide us a unique position to evaluate and pursue a wide range of assets.”