Anthem's proposed $16 billion takeover of WellPoint Health Networks was overwhelmingly approved by both companies' shareholders today. About 97% of shareholders of both companies, represented at separate meetings in Indianapolis and Thousand Oaks, Calif., voted in favor of the merger, which would create the nation's largest health insurer with 28 million members and Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 13 states. The deal, which has been approved by 10 states and federal antitrust regulators, is still being reviewed by California insurance regulators. Critics there have said the merger would unfairly enrich WellPoint's top executives while leading to higher premiums and reduced services for members. At a public hearing last Friday, California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi said he would not grant his approval until certain terms of the deal, primarily regarding executive retention bonuses and severance pay, were altered. The state Department of Managed Health Care plans to hold its own public hearing July 9. Under terms of the deal, WellPoint shareholders would receive one share of Anthem stock plus $23.80 in cash for each WellPoint share. -- by Laura B. Benko
Anthem-WellPoint deal gets shareholders' OK
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