INTERNET: WebMD Parent Weighs Sale of Stake to Microsoft
Premiere Technologies, 9% stakeholder in the much-ballyhooed online medical site WebMD, is torn between selling its stake to Microsoft or waiting "for a potentially bigger windfall from WebMD's pending initial public offering." WebMD is "trying to create a medical hub on the Web offering services ranging from medical news for consumers to patient data for physicians," the Wall St. Journal/Southeast Edition reports. Premiere spokesperson Bob Zwerneman said some of the company's investors "would love to see us sell our holdings in WebMD." However, others "anticipate a potential bonanza that could come from a successful WebMD IPO, which is scheduled to price later this month and is expected to raise about $55 million." A host of other health care players hold stakes in WebMD, including Dupont, McKessonHBOC, Tenet Healthcare and Trigon Healthcare. Some experts say that investors "may be buying Premiere stock not because they believe in Premiere's fundamental story, but as an early play on WebMD's IPO. ... If Premiere sells its stake, those investors may be quick to dump the stock" (Mollenkamp, 5/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.