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Rural/Metro to be acquired by rival that is bidding for Buffalo contract

Rural/Metro, the dominant ambulance service provider in Western New York, is being acquired by a rival company in a deal that consolidates the emergency medical field – and combines the only two bidders for Buffalo’s official ambulance contract.

Envision Healthcare Holdings Inc., the Greenwood Village, Colo.-based parent of American Medical Response Inc., agreed to buy Rural/Metro Corp. of Scottsdale, Ariz., to strengthen both companies’ offerings and expand both their service array and geographic markets. The deal includes Rural/Metro’s emergency medical services, fire services and other business operations, according to a press release. No purchase price or other terms were disclosed, but Envision said that Barclays Plc and Goldman Sachs & Co. have agreed to provide financing for the deal.

Rural/Metro, which employs 7,500 and answers 1.5 million service calls every year, offers both emergency and non-emergency transportation and specialty fire protection services in nearly 700 communities in 21 states. It has held the Buffalo city contract for the past decade, and was in line to get a five-year renewal until American Medical raised objections over the selection process.

“We have spent the past several years fine-tuning our operations and enhancing the services we provide to our patients and community partners,” said Rural/Metro CEO Scott Bartos. “Combining with AMR and aligning with Envision Healthcare will enable us to be active contributors to solutions that are shaping the future of health care.”

Envision employs 35,000 and offers a range of health care services to consumers, hospitals, health care systems, health plans and local, state and national government entities. It operates in 41 states, but not yet in New York. Besides American Medical Response, it also owns EmCare Holdings Inc., which provides doctor services for emergency, anesthesiology, hospitalist and inpatient care, radiology, tele-radiology and surgery; and Evolution Health LLC, which offers comprehensive care in various locations to patients with advanced illnesses and chronic diseases.

Ted Van Horne, AMR’s president and CEO, said,“As a former Rural/Metro paramedic and market manager, I am acutely aware of the dedication, passion and clinical expertise that its nearly 7,500 caregivers and support personnel provide to their communities. AMR looks forward to having them on our team and combining the innovative practices of both organizations, delivering stability and growth opportunities.”

In its press release, Envision said Rural/Metro is expected to generate annual revenues this year of about $600 million, and the acquisition will add to Envision’s earnings after closing, which is expected in the fourth quarter if regulators approve. The proposed deal may be subject to antitrust review by the U.S. Justice Department under federal laws.