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Anthem And WellPoint Complete Deal

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A large California managed care company and a large Ohio managed care company say they have consummated their $16.5 billion merger.[@@]

Anthem Inc., Indianapolis, and WellPoint Health Networks Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif., have described the deal as an acquisition of WellPoint by Anthem.

But WellPoint has been a bigger company with more cachet on Wall Street, and the combined company is calling itself WellPoint Inc. The company’s stock will begin trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WLP.

WellPoint Inc. provides or administers health coverage for 28 million U.S. residents, and it is now the largest commercial health insurer in the country.

Anthem Chairman Larry Glasscock is the president of WellPoint Inc., and WellPoint Health Networks Chairman Leonard Schaeffer is the chairman.

About 97% of the shareholders of both companies approved the merger. But WellPoint and Anthem said Anthem was the acquiring company partly because of concerns about regulation in California, and a dispute with California insurance regulators over protection of consumer rights ended up delaying final approval of the deal.

California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi recently approved an agreement with Anthem that requires WellPoint Inc. to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on health care programs and health care infrastructure programs.