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California | IN BRIEF

WellPoint Offer for Firm Too Low, Report Says

September 10, 2002|Reuters

WellPoint Health Networks Inc.'s $1.3-billion offer to acquire nonprofit insurer CareFirst Inc. is less than the company is worth, according to a report requested by Maryland regulators.

CareFirst's fair value ranges from $1.38 billion to $2.25 billion, a report prepared by the investment firm Blackstone Group said, citing the insurer's dominance in its markets and its profitability, among other factors.

WellPoint spokesman Ken Ferber disputed the numbers, saying the report doesn't compare "apples to apples" because it treats CareFirst as a publicly traded company and doesn't include taxes WellPoint would pay on CareFirst members' premiums, which would bring the total valuation to $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion.

Shares of Thousand Oaks-based WellPoint rose $1.50 to $75.94 on the NYSE.

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