With Amiel, Jose Serebieri Jr.'s new attempt at health plans

With Amiel, Jose Serebieri Jr.'s new attempt at health plans

Jose Serebieri Jr., better known as Junior, is an entrepreneur who made history in the health sector by creating Qualicorp, the company that practically invented group membership plans.

For this reason, along with the way he became known, many refer to the entrepreneur as an upstart at Qualicorp, where he made his fortune, taking the company public and then leaving to try to take off on his own.

Junior's trajectory, outside of Qualicorp, shows how difficult life is for companies in the healthcare sector – Qualicorp itself, once worth more than R$11 billion, is today valued at less than R$1 billion.

With QSaúde, which it bought from Qualicorp itself in 2020, Junior's plan was to create a healthcare operator with an outsourced network and a unique protocol focused on primary care.

Three years later, QSaúde never took off and was bought out by Alice. It had just 16,000 clients, illustrating the difficulties of expanding in this space as costs run rampant for both clients who buy health plans and businesses in the region.

With the purchase of Amil, a company for which he will pay R$2 billion and inherit liabilities worth about R$10 billion, Junior is not starting from scratch in his new adventure in health plans.

He'll have a mammoth on his hands. There could be no animal more appropriate to represent Amiel, which was an asset of the US company UnitedHealth, which was purchased in 2010 for 4.9 billion US dollars, equivalent to 10 billion Brazilian reais at the time, from Edson de Godoy Bueno, who has passed away. In 2017…

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The mammoth was a very large and heavy animal, just like Amiel, which has 5 million users and a network of 31 hospitals and 28 medical clinics. However, in the first nine months of 2023, it recorded an operating loss of R$2.6 billion, a worsening of 8% compared to the same period of 2022. This has been repeated over the past few years.

And this is without taking into account the contingent assets that Junior will inherit, which are estimated at R$10 billion – about 60% of which relate to tax assets. Another issue is individual plans, a disability portfolio that UnitedHealth itself tried to eliminate, but was blocked from selling by ANS.

Emile's problems are not hers alone. In 2022, healthcare companies incurred an operating loss of R$12 billion. In the first half of this year, operating results remained negative at R$4.3 billion.

Junior took Amiel because he agreed to buy the company behind closed doors, accepting past and future contingencies. There was competition from Bain Capital. Dasa, of the Bueno family, previous owner of the asset; and businessman Nelson Tanuri.

Junior, a zero-earning businessman, was a health insurance broker at Golden Cross, and had his ups and downs. He made Qualicorp a billion-dollar corporation, but had already been arrested by Lava-Jato, where he confessed to crimes and entered into a plea deal that stipulated the payment of R$230 million.

With QSaúde he tried to get back into the match but failed. A close associate of President Lula told his interlocutors that he had retired while he was moving to buy Amiel.

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And now, at the helm of the healthcare operator's new adventure, everything indicates that his mission to restore the company will not be easy.

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About the Author: Camelia Kirk

"Friendly zombie guru. Avid pop culture scholar. Freelance travel geek. Wannabe troublemaker. Coffee specialist."

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