US health plan company WellPoint has signed deals to divest two of its online optical subsidiaries including the sale of glasses.com to Luxottica . The company agreed to sell contact lens retail unit 1-800 Contacts to private equity firm Thomas H Lee Partners last week, while also entering into an asset-purchase agreement for glasses.com and its virtual try-on technology with Luxottica . Following the deal, Luxottica said it would invest in innovations to create an enhanced online experience that will be accessible to the independent practitioners in North America . Andrea Guerra , chief executive officer at Luxottica , said: ‘Today we are announcing the agreement to acquire a technology which we believe will benefit the overall eyewear sector and the optical industry in North America , a crucial market for our group and one we remain strongly committed to. ‘The acquisition will function as a starting point to shape an independent, digital platform through which the North American market can and will access the unique domain, innovating the shopping experience and improving the quality of products and services available to consumers.’ Financial terms of the transactions were not disclosed. Each agreement was subject to customary closing conditions and was expected to close in the first quarter of the year. Joseph R Swedish, chief executive officer of WellPoint, added: ‘1-800 Contacts has strong brand recognition and a leading direct-to-consumer model. However, as we prepare for the coming changes to the healthcare system, we are focused on our core growth opportunities across both our commercial and government business segments.’ The eyewear industry in North America was estimated to be worth $35.5bn , with the opportunity to grow to $44-47bn by 2020 according to Vision Council and Luxottica estimates.
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