WellPoint to buy WellChoice for about $6.3 billion
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Health insurer WellPoint Inc. on
Tuesday said it has agreed to buy WellChoice Inc. for around
$6.3 billion in cash and stock, in a deal that would give
WellPoint a stronger presence in the U.S. Northeast.
WellPoint said the combined company will now serve more
than 33 million medical members as a Blue Cross or Blue Cross
Blue Shield licensee in 14 states and through its HealthLink
and UniCare subsidiaries.
WellChoice is the largest health insurer in New York state
and the parent of Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The two companies said that the deal is expected to be
neutral to 2006 earnings and accretive thereafter and is
expected to close in the first quarter of 2006.
After the close of the transaction, WellChoice CEO Michael
Stocker will become president and chief executive officer of a
newly combined Northeast region of WellPoint, the company said.
The merger will strengthen WellPoint’s leadership in
providing health benefits to large employers with multi-state
operations, WellPoint said.