COLORADO BLUE CROSS: Anthem Ups Its Offer, Signs Deal
Anthem Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado have "formalized an agreement" under which Anthem will acquire the Colorado Blues for $165 million, a $140 million charity contribution and a $50 million loan -- $35 million of which has already been delivered. The offer represents a $40 million increase over Anthem's original pledge of $100 million for charity. The deal follows this weekend's counteroffer by WellPoint Health Networks Inc. to purchase the Colorado Blues for $200 million and $140 million for charity. Adding to the "muddle," the Denver Post reports, Blue Shield of California also made an offer for the Colorado plan, which did not respond, according to Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar (D). Anthem spokesperson James Parker said Blue Cross remained true to negotiating exclusively with Anthem and "did not respond to the WellPoint offer."
Critics complained that Blue Cross was neglecting its duty "to the people of Colorado to sell out for as much as possible." In a fax to Blue Cross attorney Michael Huotari, Salazar wrote that WellPoint and Blue Shield indicated that Anthem's deal "may not result in the realization of the full value of [Blue Cross] for charitable purposes." Salazar has called for a meeting to see whether the plan is "acting responsibly" in its negotiations (Hubler, 3/30). A WellPoint spokesperson said, "We dispute that there has been a full and fair auction process" (Wall Street Journal, 3/30). Anthem's Parker "said WellPoint's offer may have sounded like more money, but it was too sketchy to take seriously" (Denver Post, 3/30).