Justice Department OKs Anthem/WellPoint Merger
The Department of Justice on Friday declined to block the purchase of WellPoint Health Networks by Anthem, clearing the way for the two companies to merge, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 2/28). Officials from Indiana-based Anthem last October announced an agreement to purchase California-based WellPoint for $16.4 billion in cash and stock. The combined company, which would use the name WellPoint and have its headquarters in Indianapolis, will have $27.1 billion in assets, 40,000 employees and 26 million members in 13 states. In November, four House Democrats asked the Federal Trade Commission to examine the proposed merger to ensure the deal would not affect competition in the insurance market or harm consumers (California Healthline, 11/7/03). On Friday, FTC closed its antitrust investigation into the merger. The two companies have not yet scheduled shareholder votes to approve the transaction. Anthem spokesperson Ed West said that DOJ's move "is another significant milestone in the completion of our transaction," adding, "We still expect to close by midyear. Everything seems to be on track." West said the deal is still being reviewed by state regulators. Shares of WellPoint rose $1.05 to $108.77 on the NYSE, and Anthem shares rose 58 cents to $85.95 (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 2/28).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.