NU Online News Service, June 14, 2004, 5:33 p.m. EDT – The California Public Employees’ Retirement System says it will oppose the proposed merger of WellPoint Health Networks Inc. and Anthem Inc.[@@]

Executives at WellPoint, Thousand Oaks, Calif., appear to be getting a $600 million package of bonuses, severance payments and vested stock options, and that executive compensation package is “beyond the realm of excessive,” according to Sean Harrigan, president of the CalPERS board.

CalPERS, which owns 721,840 shares of WellPoint stock and 612,938 shares of the stock of Anthem, Indianapolis, says it is trying persuade other shareowners to team up with it to oppose the merger.

The CalPERS announcement comes on the heels of a move by California Insurance Commission John Garamendi to ask the California Legislature for more authority to review the WellPoint/Anthem deal.