WellPoint Health Networks, Thousand Oaks, Calif., agreed to acquire Cobalt Corp., Milwaukee, which operates 800,000-member Blue Cross and Blue Shield United of Wisconsin, for $906 million in cash and stock. The acquisition would reduce costs by $30 million over four years and bring WellPoint's assets to $13 billion and its membership to 14.3 million, WellPoint said. Cobalt shareholders would get $10.25 in cash and 0.1233 shares of WellPoint for each share of Cobalt. Wisconsin United for Health Foundation, which owns approximately 25 million shares of Cobalt, would receive about $256 million in cash and about 3.1 million WellPoint shares. The deal requires Cobalt shareholder and regulatory approval. It is expected to close by year-end. WellPoint's attempt to acquire CareFirst Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Owings Mills, Md., was blocked by state regulators in March. -- by Laura B. Benko
WellPoint plans to acquire Wis. Blues operator
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