Sun Life to buy DentaQuest to grow in US
SUN LIFE Financial, Inc., Canada’s largest group-benefits company, agreed to buy US dental-benefits provider DentaQuest for about $2.48 billion, bolstering its business south of the border.
Private equity firm Centerbridge Partners LP will sell its minority stake in DentaQuest as part of the transaction, Toronto-based Sun Life said Sunday. DentaQuest is majority-owned by the nonprofit CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, which plans to use the proceeds on programs to improve dental care for underserved communities.
The acquisition gives Sun Life the second-largest provider of dental benefits in the US, more than doubling its employee benefits revenue there and adding to its portfolio of health and group benefits in the country. Boston-based DentaQuest, founded in 2001, has more than 33 million customers in 36 states and about 2,400 employees.
DentaQuest was particularly appealing because the firm is the largest provider of Medicaid dental benefits and is growing its Medicare Advantage and US Affordable Care Act businesses, giving Sun Life access to the US government market. The dental benefits market also is less capital-intensive than other businesses like long-term care insurance, making it a more attractive target, Sun Life Chief Executive Officer Kevin Strain said.
“We’ve been looking for ways to add scale to our group benefits business — and we’ve been growing organically quite well — but we always thought that an acquisition would be an important step forward for us in the US group-benefits space,” Mr. Strain said in an interview. “This one came to us in a space that we like, and it fits with our strategy.”
The deal will immediately boost Sun Life’s profit, adding 17 Canadian cents (13 US cents) to underlying earnings per share, according to the statement. Sun Life said that in 2024 after savings from the takeover have been realized, the deal will add 24 Canadian cents a share to underlying earnings. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2022.
Sun Life shares have climbed 15% this year, in line with S&P/Toronto Stock Exchange Composite Index.