MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET) has entered the healthcare M&A market. Last week, the company announced the acquisition of Versant Health, the parent company of Davis Vision and Superior Vision, two major vision care and insurance brands with a combined 35 million members. Centerbridge Partners and an investor group including FFL Partners are selling Versant Health in this acquisition. Centerbridge started exploring the sale of Versant Health in late 2019 when it brought on Barclays to auction off its portfolio company. Metlife is purchasing Versant Health in an all-cash transaction valued at $1.68 billion.

With this acquisition, MetLife becomes the third-largest U.S. vision insurer by membership. The transaction will strengthen and differentiate MetLife’s vision benefit offering with one of the industry’s broadest networks of providers and plan options. This deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020. With more than 90% of employees interested in receiving vision insurance through their employer, MetLife sees significant potential in the U.S. managed vision care market.

Despite the market potential, transactions for vision benefits haven’t been a driving force in the M&A market. Results in our Deal Search Online database only show one other similar deal. In January 2019, Western Dental Services, a subsidiary of Premier Dental Holdings, moved into the vision benefits market by acquiring California-based EyeMax Vision Plan for an undisclosed price.