NU Online News Service, Sept. 23, 2003, 3:50 p.m. EDT – Shareholders of Cobalt Corporation, Milwaukee, have approved the company’s proposed merger with WellPoint Health Networks Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif., Cobalt announced today.

Wisconsin officials yesterday approved the deal, in which WellPoint will acquire Cobalt for $906 million. The companies announced the deal in June 2003.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Chicago, also has approved the merger, the companies say.

Cobalt said more than 99% of shares were cast in favor of the merger at a special stockholder meeting today. Wisconsin United for Health Foundation Inc. holds about 60% of the shares.

The companies expect to close the deal in early 2004.

WellPoint provides or administers major medical coverage for 13 million U.S. residents through Blue Cross of California, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri, HealthLink and Unicare.

Cobalt, one of four publicly traded Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies, provides or administers major medical coverage for 806,000 people.