UnitedHealth buying DaVita group, including 9 local offices

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( DVA ), for about $4.9 billion in cash.

The insurer will acquire almost 300 clinics that serve about 1.7 million patients, as well as 35 urgent-care centers and six surgery centers.

Health insurers have been pushing deeper into managing or providing patient care in order to cut costs and improve health, especially for those with chronic conditions. DaVita's kidney dialysis unit is not included in the deal.

Reuters reported last month that DaVita was exploring a sale of its medical unit.

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Leerink analyst Ana Gupte said the purchase is likely to add to UnitedHealth earnings per share by 1 percent to 4 percent in 2018 and 5 percent to 7 percent in 2019, the first full year after the deal closes.

UnitedHealth bought Surgical Care Affiliates for about $2.3 billion in March.

Optum also runs its own primary and urgent care centers, surgery centers, and senior and advanced care centers.

UnitedHealth has said Optum aims to provide primary care and ambulatory services in 75 markets, representing about two-thirds of the US population.

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DaVita, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Denver, will give Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group more access to dialysis patients across the country and medical-group patients in six states.

DaVita's physician network unit recorded sales of $4.11 billion past year but had become a major drag on the company's financial performance in recent quarters despite contributing 30 per cent to total revenue.

Through its Optum unit, which operates a large pharmacy benefit manager and offers a wide array of health care services, UnitedHealth Group is among the most diversified and the most successful of the large insurers.

DaVita intends to use the proceeds from the sale for stock repurchases, debt repayment and general corporate purposes.

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