(Bloomberg) -- Heritage Provider Network Inc. is exploring a potential sale that could value the private medical group at more than $9 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. 

HPN, which is controlled by founder and Chief Executive Officer Richard Merkin, is working with advisers to assist in a sales process that could begin as early as next month, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. 

In preparation for a sale, the company is undergoing an audit of its financials and its bankers have been informally fielding interest from potential bidders including private equity firms, the people said. Other potential suitors could include large health insurers, some of the people said. 

The plans aren’t finalized and HPN could decide not to sell itself. 

Northridge, California-based HPN generates about $600 million to $700 million in annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to preliminary figures, some of the people said. 

A spokesman for HPN didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Merkin founded the predecessor company to what is now HPN in 1979. It was one of the first among a growing number of companies that are structured so that the provider agrees to take on some or all of the risk of treating patients in exchange for a fixed payment. That’s in contrast to the typical model in the U.S. where the health insurer is responsible for paying for care. The view is the former model can lead to better health outcomes and lower costs. 

HPN has 3,700 primary care doctors, more than 10,000 specialists and about 1,700 facilities in its network, according to its website, and has more than 800,000 members across Arizona, California, Missouri and New York. 

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