Charlotte: Frontier rising

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Frontier Capital, founded by Andrew Lindner, right, and Richard Maclean, recently invested in AccessOne, a Fort Mill, S.C-based health care startup led by CEO Mark Spinner, left.

Both of Charlotte private-equity investor Andrew Lindner’s brothers are doctors who’ve complained about not getting paid adequately or fast enough. So it’s no wonder that Lindner pounced on the chance to invest in a doctor-initiated company that helps hospitals and providers get compensated more quickly.

Lindner is co-founder of Frontier Capital, which has invested in about 40 companies since its inception in 1999, mostly software and business-services groups such as  Charlotte-based data-center operator Peak 10. Frontier has raised about $800 million in four separate funds, including a $390 million addition in early 2015. About 60% of that fund is tapped, with the latest investment being Fort Mill, S.C.–based AccessOne, which aligns with health care providers to administer payment plans for patients with debts averaging $1,500.

Much of health care insurance is in flux as Congress dukes out Obamacare, “but I’m pretty sure that for my family and others, we’ll be paying a lot more for health care than we have in the past,” says Mark Spinner, AccessOne’s CEO. Investment in new technology is leading to higher costs, and pressure from all sides is shifting more of the burden to consumers, he says.

While it started as a regional firm, Frontier now studies companies across the U.S., so investing in a local firm is unusual, Lindner says. (Fort Mill is about 18 miles south of downtown Charlotte.) But he was impressed with AccessOne’s technology and founder Rusty Salton, a veteran Charlotte doctor who started the business in 2002 with a mission of helping people manage their health care expenses. While the stakes are much higher now, altruism still plays a role as many patients enrolled in the company’s plans pay zero or 1% interest on their debts, Spinner says. Providers  benefit by recouping money that might go uncollected by in-house staff.

AccessOne has reached a sufficient size to warrant a significant investment, which is Frontier’s usual strategy, Lindner says. Declining to be specific, he says the investment is in the middle of its typical $10 million to $50 million outlay.


MAIDEN — GKN Driveline, a unit of United Kingdom-based GKN, will invest $179 million and add 302 jobs at four North Carolina plants, including 143 jobs here. Other expansions will occur at plants in Sanford, Mebane and Timberlake. The company makes automotive components including all-wheel-drive systems.

LINCOLNTON — Kaco will add 100 jobs, doubling its local workforce, and invest $8.4 million over three years in a plant expansion. The Germany-based company makes seals for automakers. Kaco could receive a $100,000 state grant if it meets hiring goals.

CHARLOTTE— Carousel Capital raised $400 million in its fifth fund, bringing the total raised by the private-equity firm to more than $1.2 billion. Carousel was started 20 years ago by Erskine Bowles and Nelson Schwab.

Photos courtesy of Frontier Capital

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