The former Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, New York -- now named WellChoice -- raised $417.5 million in an initial public offering late yesterday, completing its six-year transition to a for-profit, publicly traded company. The health insurer sold 16.7 million shares at $25 each; earlier this week, it had been expected to sell 13.9 million shares for an estimated $21 to $24 per share. However, late last year when the insurer was negotiating its conversion plan with the state, the offering was expected to raise $1 billion. As of midday today, WellChoice's shares were trading at $27.50 under the ticker WC on the New York Stock Exchange. The insurer, which has 4.6 million members in New York and New Jersey, first applied to convert to for-profit status in 1996. WellChoice earned $227 million on operations in the nine months ended Sept. 30. Its premium revenue was $3.5 billion. -- by Laura B. Benko
Former Empire Blues raises $417 million in IPO
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