Yesterday Sky News reported that the Carlyle Group, owners of Integrated Dental Holdings (IDH), were seeking advisers on a possible sale or stick market flotation of the corporate later this year.
IDH has 570 practices making it the biggest corporate in the UK, if not Europe, and it is rumoured to be valued at £1 billion.
IDH's earnings are reported to have risen last year by 21% to £48.7 million – we are talking big money here.
This is in marked contrast to IDH's last foray into the stock market in 2002/03, when a failure to recruit sufficient dentists and paying them 45% of gross earnings was blamed for lower than expected revenue growth.
However, IDH is a very different animal these days.
There are dentists looking for work and an influx from eastern Europe.
The corporate has also acquired Associated Dental Practices, Dental Buying Group and Dental Directory over the last three years.
IDH has been buying up large, mainly NHS practices over the years.
Its main rival, Oasis, recently acquired the Irish group Smiles.
The expansion of corporates looks unstoppable.
Last month Laingbuisson estimated its share of the market at over 20%.
In addition its association gave a very positive response to the minister's speech in Manchester last month, outlining a road map for implementing the new NHS contract in England.
It seems certain to me that the corporates see opportunities in dentistry, especially in the NHS.
It is perhaps time that independent dentists woke up to this and recognised the competition.