UnitedHealth will acquire Spectera Inc.

Vision-benefits company to remain in Baltimore

November 07, 2001|By M. William Salganik | M. William Salganik,SUN STAFF

Spectera Inc., the Baltimore company that administers vision benefits for 4.7 million people, will be acquired by Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group, the country's second-largest health insurer, the companies announced yesterday.

Spectera, which has been employee-owned, will retain its name, management, employees and local headquarters. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

John S. Penshorn, director of capital markets, communications and strategy for UnitedHealth, said Spectera will be "our flagship" in vision. A smaller vision plan that UnitedHealth already owns will be folded into Spectera, he said, as well as any future vision acquisitions.

Spectera will be the eighth member of a United division that provides a variety of specialized types of health insurance, such as dental and mental health coverage. Penshorn said Spectera's name has "good brand equity," and will be retained as part of United's strategy of not marketing the specialized services under its own name.

While retaining its own identity, Spectera will look to United's client base to grow, said Sue Cox, Spectera's senior vice president of marketing.

Spectera had about $115 million in revenue in the fiscal year that ended Oct. 31 - up from $60 million in fiscal 1997 - and expects $150 million this year, including the revenue from the United vision plan it will pick up.

United expects about $25 billion in revenue this year, including $1.5 billion from the specialized insurance division, according to Penshorn.

"We've grown very well over the last four years, but United can take us to the next level," Cox said.

With corporate headquarters in Woodlawn, Spectera also has about two dozen United Optical shops in Maryland, a service center in Harford County, and Crown Labs in the Holabird Industrial Park, which grinds out 6,000 pairs of glasses a week.

Spectera has 720 employees, about 400 in the Baltimore area, Cox said.

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