WellPoint Counters Bid for Cerulean
WellPoint Health Networks Inc. upped its bid for Cerulean Cos., Georgia's largest health insurer and parent of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Georgia, to $680 million on Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reports. WellPoint raised its offer to top "rival" company Trigon Healthcare's $675 million all-cash bid. In July 1998, WellPoint had agreed to buy Cerulean for $500 million in cash and stock. The deal was approved by the Cerulean shareholders on Oct. 10. However, Cerulean notified WellPoint on Friday that it was planning to cancel the sale and accept Trigon's offer. The Times reports that because WellPoint retains the right to match any rival bid, Cerulean does not consider the new bid to be "superior" to Trigon's offer. WellPoint spokesperson John Cygul remained confident that WellPoint would close the deal. Cygul said, "We believe WellPoint and Cerulean are best positioned to close a transaction quickly, given the operational, regulatory and legal progress we've made over the last two-and-a half-years." Trigon spokeperson Brooke Taylor said the company "has no response at this point" (Los Angeles Times, 11/27).