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Centerbridge explores sale of Versant Health - sources

By Joshua Franklin and Mike Spector
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Centerbridge explores sale of Versant Health - sources

FILE PHOTO: A patient undergoes an eye exam at the Remote Area Medical health clinic in Inglewood

By Joshua Franklin and Mike Spector

(Reuters) - Private equity firm Centerbridge Partners LP is exploring a sale of Versant Health in a deal which could value the U.S. managed vision care benefits company at more than $2 billion (£1.56 billion), including debt, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Versant could appeal to other medical benefits providers as well as buyout firms seeking to consolidate the sector. Earlier this year, privately held VSP Global, another managed eye care benefits provider, acquired Visionworks, the sixth largest optical chain in the United States, in a bid for scale.

New York-based Centerbridge has hired Barclays Plc <BARC.L> to run an auction for Versant, the sources said, requesting anonymity as the matter is private.

Versant and Barclays declined to comment. Centerbridge did not respond to a request for comment.

Versant was formed in 2017 after Centerbridge combined Superior Vision and Davis Vision, which it acquired in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Linthicum, Maryland-based Versant has more than 33 million members in the United States across its vision care plans, according to its website.

The U.S. vision care industry generates around $40 billion in annual revenue, according to the Vision Council, a trade group, making it an attractive investment destination for private equity firms.

In August, Goldman Sachs Group Inc's <GS.N> buyout arm acquired Capital Vision Services LP, the manager of MyEyeDr. optometry centers, from private equity firm Altas Partners LP and Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec for $2.7 billion, including debt.

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin and Mike Spector in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)