MetLife has reached an agreement to buy the managed vision-care company Versant Health from a group of investors led by Centerbridge Partners and including FFL Partners for $1.675 billion in an all-cash transaction.

Versant owns the marketplace brands Davis Vision and Superior Vision, which has about 35 million members. MetLife said following the deal it would become the third-largest vision insurer by membership in the U.S. The company has offered group vision since 2012 and it has a 15% market share in U.S. group benefits. It said after the acquisition it will have about 38 million vision-care members.

It is financing the deal with cash on hand.

“We are confident this acquisition will make our market-leading group benefits business even more attractive,” Ramy Tadros, president of U.S. business for MetLife, said. “The addition of the strong Davis Vision and Superior Vision brands will immediately establish MetLife as a leader in managed vision care.”

MetLife said it expected the deal to be accretive to earnings per share and free cash flow and would have an internal rate of return in the high teens.

“This transaction furthers our goal of deploying capital to the highest-value opportunities,” MetLife chief executive officer Michel Khalaf said in a statement. “We expect this combination to accelerate revenue growth while delivering greater value for our customers and shareholders.”

MetLife approved a $2 billion share buyback in July 19.

MetLife’s share price is down more than 26% year-to-date, versus an 18% drop year-to-date for the SPDR S&P Insurance ETF.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

MetLife shares were up nearly 2% in morning trading.

, ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *