Jan 7 Health insurer WellPoint Inc said
on Tuesday it reached an agreement to sell 1-800 Contacts, its
online contact lens business, to private equity firm Thomas H.
Lee Partners in order to focus on its core insurance business.
Financial terms of the deal and a separate transaction to
sell a similar eye glasses business, glasses.com, to Luxottica
Group were not disclosed.
Wellpoint said it would take a charge related to the sales,
an indication that it is selling the businesses for less than it
paid for them.
WellPoint's acquisition of the retail contact lens business
from a different private equity firm in June 2012 was one of the
last big deals by the company's previous chief executive,
Angela Brawly, and was met with mostly negative responses from
Wall Street analysts at the time.
Wellpoint was widely reported to have paid about $900
million for the business, although the company never disclosed
the purchase price.
WellPoint said it expected to record an impairment charge
related to the sales of 52 cents to 57 cents per share in the
2013 fourth quarter.
The company said it expects the deals to close in the
"As we prepare for the coming changes to the health care
system, we are focused on our core growth opportunities across
both our commercial and government business segments," Chief
Executive Joseph Swedish said in a statement.
"Proceeds from this transaction will support our continued
capital deployment strategies," he added.
Excluding the one-time charge, the company maintained its
adjusted 2013 forecast for net profit of $8.40 per share.