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Healthcare-focused Council Ventures adds HealthSpring CEO Fritch
for CEO council that guides health and related portfolio companies
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Herb Fritch

Council Ventures, the 11-year-old Nashville private equity firm with a health-heavy portfolio, has added HealthSpring founder, Chairman and CEO Herb Fritch to its CEO advisory council, Council managing general partner Katie Gambill announced today.

Citing Fritch's decades of managed-healthcare and entrepreneurial experience, Gambill said in a release that Fritch will help Council's portfolio companies "understand the changes that are already underway and the more significant ones that will come with health care reform."

Asked whether Council, with about $150 million assets under management, is now top-ranked among this region's healthcare-focused private equity or venture-capital entities, a Council spokesperson said the firm believes that to be the case.

Other CEO Council members include, according to the firm's website, Pilot Corp. Founder and Chairman James Haslam II (father of Tennessee's Gov. Bill Haslam), CHS CEO Wayne Smith, Oreck Chairman Thomas Oreck, HCA board of directors member Barbara Massey Rogers, Ingram Entertainment Chairman David Ingram, Diversified Trust Director William Spitz (former Vanderbilt University vice chancellor-investments), former Dollar General CEO Cal Turner Jr. and attorney Aubrey Harwell (Neal & Harwell).

Katie Gambill

The CEO Council also includes Gambill and the firm's three other general partners, plus the firm's operating partners, all of whom are regularly involved in portfolio companies' efforts; the general and operating partners include Vanguard Health founder and CEO Charlie Martin, former J.C. Bradford senior partner Luke Simons, former Ingram Micro and Ingram Industries CEO Chip Lacy, and Jim Balkcom, a former CEO and majority owner of TechSonic Industries and a former chairman of CommerceSouth, a listed bank holding company. Balkcom was also among leadership of iKobo and EVault, tech plays previously in the CV portfolio.

The general partners in addition to Gambill are co-founder Denny Bottorff, Gary Peat and Grant Jackson.

Council's portfolio includes Atlanta-based Ingenious Med (mobile charge- and data-capture at point of care), led founder and Executive Chairman Stephen Liu, M.D., who as a child immigrated to the U.S. from China and who was recently named Physician Entrepreneur of the Year by Modern Physician.

The Council website indicates its portfolio also includes Nashville-based NuScript Rx (institutional pharmacy, formerly NewDay), as well as REACH Call (REACH Health, Alpharetta, telemedicine); Endochoice (Alpharetta, supporting GI clinicians); Senior Whole Health (managed care, Massachusetts and New York); and, Lancope (Alpharetta; Stealthwatch network security and performance monitoring).

Council Ventures' website will soon be updated to reflect the fact that all general, operating and CEO Council participants are now referred to as members of the firm's CEO Council; the site is to be relaunched in September, said the spokesperson.

Council Ventures and Enhanced Capital in 2009 joined to form the Council & Enhanced Tennessee Fund; that fund and nine other TNInvestco awardees each gained access to $20 million in State TNINvestco premium tax-credit allocations which were marketed to insurance carriers to generate $14 million for the Council TNInvestco. The C&E fund has invested more than $3.5 million thus far under the TNInvestco program.

Franklin-based HealthSpring (NYSE:HS) and its predecessors Health Net and NewQuest LLC, have been led by Fritch since the enterprise began operations in 2000. The company, which has more than 3,000 employees, IPO'd in 2006; it recently reported 2Q 2011 premium revenue of $1.4 billion and net income for the quarter $83.9 million, the latter figure up more than 80 percent from the corresponding 2010 period. HS's market cap this morning was about $2.3 billion.

Fritch, cited as age 60 in a recent SEC filing, was earlier an officer of PhyCor, the physician practice management company that bought another company Fritch founded and led, North American Medical Management (NAMM), an independent physician association management firm. He earlier founded and led Sanus Corp. Health Systems, a regional managed care firm, and was a regional VP for Partners National HealthPlans. He was earlier a consulting actuary at Milliman and Robertson. Fritch holds a bachelor's in mathematics from Carleton College, according to the HealthSpring website. VNC

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Tags: Aubrey Harwell, Barbara Massey Rogers, Bill Spitz, Cal Turner, Charlie Martin, Council Capital, Council Ventures, David Ingram, Denny Bottorff, Diversified Trust, Gary Peat, Grant Jackson, healthcare, HealthSpring, Herb Fritch, James Haslam II, Jim Balkcom, Katie Gambill, Lancope, Luke Simons, NuScript Rx, PhyCor, private equity, REACH Call, Senior Whole Health, Stephen Liu, Thomas Oreck, venture capital, Wayne Smith

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