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California and the West

PacifiCare Shareholders OK Insurer's Sale to UnitedHealth

November 18, 2005|Debora Vrana and Marc Lifsher | Times Staff Writers

PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. shareholders voted Thursday to approve a proposed $8.1-billion purchase of the Cypress-based health insurer by UnitedHealth Group of Minnesota.

More than 99% of shareholder votes were cast in favor of the deal, company officials said, with more than 80% of shareholders participating.

The major holdout was the California Public Employees' Retirement System, which voted against the deal because the company refused to let shareholders separately vote on $345 million in payouts to top executives. The pension system opposes the payouts.

Shareholder approval means the deal, which was announced July 6, has cleared a major hurdle. But it still needs approval from federal antitrust officials and regulators in various states where PacifiCare operates.

Oregon and Arizona regulators have approved the deal, company officials said. Officials in eight other states are still considering it, including the California departments of managed healthcare and insurance.

Lynne Randolph, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Managed Health Care, said her agency was still reviewing the proposed acquisition and has asked PacifiCare to provide more information.

PacifiCare said UnitedHealth has voluntarily refiled some of its documents for the deal, which will give federal antitrust regulators additional time to review the transaction. PacifiCare said it still expected its sale to close by early next year.

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