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Telus see opportunity in employee wellness as it closes LifeWorks deal

Telus finalized the LifeWorks deal for $2.3 billion, plans to roll it into its growing Telus Health unit

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Telus Corp. is betting that employee wellness is more than a post-pandemic fad as it expands its health division globally to include corporate clients and the delivery of health services to their workers.

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The B.C.-based company, best known for its telecom operations, finalized the acquisition of human resources services company LifeWorks Inc. — formerly known as Morneau Shepell — for $2.3 billion on Thursday and plans to roll it into its growing Telus Health unit.

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“On the heels of a global pandemic, the importance of employee total health cannot be overstated,” Michael Dingle, chief operating officer of Telus Health, said in an interview.

Dingle, who will oversee the transition of LifeWorks into Telus Health, said the increasing competition for workers during the current labour shortage is driving employers to seek ways to attract, develop and retain talent. As discussions of burnout and trends such as “quiet quitting” become more prominent, wellness has become a more crucial element of the employee retention equation.

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The deal will more than triple Telus Health’s size from 2,000 to 9,000 employees. Telus said this will expand its reach globally and cover more than 50 million people across more than 160 countries.

On the heels of a global pandemic, the importance of employee total health cannot be overstated

Michael Dingle, chief operating officer of Telus Health

“Effective today, Telus Health is a global health-care company,” Dingle said. Telus Health offers virtual care and provides patients access to digital pharmacy options, home health monitoring and electronic health records.

He said during the pandemic, the company saw increased use of services across the board but there was also an ongoing larger trend of employers seeing the importance of delivering preventative care to their employee base, which the pandemic only amplified.

Dingle added that they expect to be able to export the skills and products offered from their base in Canada to employers and clients all over the world.

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“This is the opportunity for two great Canadian companies to advance health care globally,” he said.

Desjardins analyst Jérome Dubreuil said the expansion is similar to the playbook the company used for Telus International and would help Telus Health get bigger, especially since they’re considering an eventual IPO for the unit.

“This gives them the scale needed for them to operate on their own,” Dubreuil said.

Under the transaction, Telus acquired all shares of LifeWorks for $33 per common share, in addition to about $600 million in debt.

The deal closed earlier than expected and Telus will update its 2022 guidance for the purchase with its third quarter reporting in November.

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