Corza Health Emerges Led by Former NuVasive, GreatCall Executives

Xconomy San Diego — 

A Chicago-based private equity firm has tapped the former head of NuVasive and finance chief of GreatCall to start a new healthcare company in San Diego.

The company, Corza Health, is headed by Greg Lucier, most recently CEO at NuVasive, and backed by the PE firm, GTCR, with money from its $5.25 billion Fund XII. Lucier is also making a “substantial” investment in Corza, according to a statement from GTCR on Wednesday.

Creating new companies helmed by experienced leaders is part of a longstanding GTCR practice, which it calls its Leaders Strategy. Corza says it is on the hunt for life sciences and medical technology companies and assets to acquire.

Lucier has been a NuVasive (NASDAQ: NUVA) board member since December 2013. He took over as chief executive at the San Diego spine device maker in 2015 in the wake of the resignation of the company’s longtime chairman and CEO Alex Lukianov, who left after an investigation revealed Lukianov had violated expense reimbursement and personnel policies.

NuVasive announced in October that Chris Barry would succeed Lucier as CEO; Lucier continues to serve as chairman.

Prior to his time at NuVasive, Lucier headed a Carlsbad, CA, company called Life Technologies for 11 years. (Once named Invitrogen, the company rebranded as Life Tech after its 2008 merger with Mountain View, CA-based Applied Biosystems.) Lucier saw the company through its 2013 acquisition by Waltham, MA-based Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) in a deal valued at $13.6 billion.

Former GreatCall CFO Brian Berning is joining Lucier as the new company’s CFO. In 2017, GTCR bought out GreatCall, which operates a virtual mobile telecommunications network for seniors and sells a variety of products tailored for older customers, such as phones with large screens and big buttons. But in August 2018, the private equity firm sold GreatCall to Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) for $800 million in cash.

Even before the GreatCall transactions, GTCR had been active in San Diego for some time, acquiring at least two other locally based companies—Lyxt, which puts video cameras in commercial truck cabs to improve driver safety, for more than $500 million in 2016, and healthtech company Xifin, for an undisclosed amount, in 2014.

GTCR and Lucier’s relationship dates back to the executive’s time as a director at Cole-Parmer, which the PE firm carved out from Thermo Fisher in 2014. (Later it sold the unit to another private equity shop, Golden Gate Capital.)

Lucier is also on the board of Catalent (NYSE: CTLT), the New Jersey-based contract drug developer and manufacturer, which has West Coast operations in San Diego. He previously served as a director at medical device maker CareFusion, which was acquired by Becton Dickinson in 2015 for about $12 billion.