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The Ametros deal – details and perspective

Ametros just sold for $350 million in cash, a rather stunning haul for the MSA administrators’ owners.  There’s a lot detail on how and why Ametros’ value was that high in the interview below,

Along with the Carisk recap, this was one of the (very) few recently-attempted sales in the industry that came to fruition. In the parlance of private equity Ametros may be a unicorn – from here it looks like its valuation wasn’t based on an earnings multiple, rather the company’s massive bank deposits and growth potential.

I spoke with CEO Porter Leslie earlier this week – he was refreshingly open and candid; I didn’t have to dig through gobs of corporate-speak to get to the real stuff.  Here’s our conversation.

Questions for Porter Leslie

MCM – Talk about how Ametros has grown to over $800 million in [bank] deposits.

Leslie – It has been a long grind, we identified something that the market needed, to take care of Injured Workers [IW] after settlements, over time a lot of large payers and attorneys came around… CMS highly recommends it, it helps IWs, and helps settlements happen – it all makes sense – it took time to scale and to get story out there, nothing fancy, just focused on building strong relationships

MCM – One aspect of Ametros I’ve been consistently impressed with is your marketing – talk about how leadership thinks about marketing and investing in brand.

Leslie – what we do is pretty complicated, no one understands WC or MSAs or professional admin of MSA – [so we’re at a] third level of complication – thrust has been to make it simple – mission is to make healthcare easy for IW, everything we do is thru lens of making it simple and practical – if IW can get it, then the expert that advises them can understand it

[we have] great people on the marketing side – Melissa [Coleman] works well with Helen [Knight of KingKnight]– we give them room to run, there are a lot of ideas and creativity across social media, websites, wherever they see opportunity to connect. We focus a lot on telling the stories of IWs that go through a settlement and how we can alleviate burden for them.

We do play in a lot of traditional publications, if you go to our website we highlight members. Few organizations really emphasize the human element and story around it – that’s what people care about – our people understand the space, we don’t spend on conferences so much as getting to people that matter to them and share story – message is around why do they give a darn about this and why should they – service is beneficial to all involved.

MCM – Has CMS done anything recently to increase payer interest in MSAs and professional administration?

Leslie – [recently there’s been a] Steady drumbeat from CMS on tightening up oversight and MSAs and professional admin…for instance, a few years ago with CMS’ electronic portal to submit reporting – we worked hard with CMS to make it work. Last year CMS put out messaging re MSAs in an attempt to move the market towards submitting MSAs for CMS’ approval– CMS did a webinar last month saying that in 2025, CMS will mandate that when you settle a case you have to put a $ figure for moneys that were set aside to protect Medicare …now the payer has to tell CMS when they settled the case, even if the MSA was not formally submitted to CMS for approval, the payer has to tell CMS [explicitly] the amount that was set aside to protect them. All this effort to drive extra visibility shows CMS is watching settlements and wants to make sure the injured workers’ medical funds are properly set aside and administered after settlement.

MCM – Unusual for a bank to acquire a workers’ comp services entity; talk about the rationale.

Leslie – Don’t think of ourselves as WC services business – receive business from WC but once injured workers land with us, the individual is a cash pay member of the healthcare system – in the [sale] process we did not want to be typecast into WC business – we do fair number of general liability and accident claims as well

Webster is top 25 bank and the largest bank-run administrator of HSA [Health Savings Accounts]. Webster acquired an HSA admin company that was tiny, now it is close to $13 billion in deposits…Webster held majority of Ametros’ deposits and made a loan to the business, knew Ametros well and was accustomed to investing and growing this type of business. The deal really was the natural evolution of a partnership that was years in the making.

MCM – While there haven’t been many transactions of late, in general valuations have declined from those a few years ago…this transaction bucks that trend. Valuation of $350MM was quite impressive, as was the all-cash purchase.

Context is Webster is a [recent] combination of Sterling Bank and Webster [which] doubled its size…they have been pretty active looking for differentiated source of deposits…Webster is not trying to be expert in WC…know Ametros has a team of experts that do that know that.

MCM – How will Ametros operate going forward?

Leslie – No team changes or system changes or tech changes – vision from W is to remain independent similar to HSABank – questions Webster is asking [of management] are how to grow faster; need people, systems, etc? – Ametros administers 8-9% of MSAs that are settled today, and we should be handling 80-90%…[expect we will] put forth budgets to really propel the business.


MCM – What changes will customers see?

Leslie – Keep same brand, same products, invest in making them better, no changes to staff

[There is] Not a workers’ comp dedicated bank out there, so may be other opportunities for Webster in WC.

[There are] Other entities [in MSA administration] that are 1/5th the size of them that could be acquisition candidates

What does this mean for you?

Great business ideas with great marketing executed very well can be very lucrative. 

You need all three.




Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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