Investors seem to like the idea of WellPoint Inc. acquiring WellChoice Inc., but the rating agencies are wondering how easy it will be for WellPoint to fold WellChoice into its own operations.[@@]
WellPoint, Indianapolis, announced plans Tuesday to pay $6.5 billion in stock and cash for WellChoice, New York, the parent of Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
WellPoint investors shrugged.
Investors react to some acquisition announcements by sending the stock of the acquirer plunging.
WellPoint shares have been selling for about $75. The price of a WellPoint share edged down 8 cents Tuesday and 32 cents today.
The rating agencies’ reviews are mixed.
Moody’s Investors Service, New York, is maintaining its stable outlook for WellPoint, but Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, New York, says it is changing its outlook for WellPoint to stable, from positive.
The Chicago office of Fitch Ratings says it is putting WellPoint on “Rating Watch Negative.”
The old Anthem Inc., Indianapolis, completed the merger with WellPoint Health Networks Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif., that created the WellPoint Inc. in November 2004.
One of the worst plagues that afflict corporate acquirers is computer integration problems. WellPoint has avoided computer integration problems by keeping acquired companies’ old computer systems going, Moody’s says.