Home Business Braly Leaves Wellpoint, What About the Amerigroup Deal?

Braly Leaves Wellpoint, What About the Amerigroup Deal?

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On Tuesday evening, news hit that WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) CEO Angela Braly had suddenly left the company. Her exit came after recent pressure from shareholders to have her exit. In the interim, EVP John Cannon will take over the reins as CEO while the company seeks a replacement.

Braly Leaves Wellpoint, What About the Amerigroup Deal?

Now that Braly has left, one question at the forefront is, What about the $4.5 million AMERIGROUP Corporation (NYSE:AGP) deal?

On July 9, WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) announced it would purchase AMERIGROUP Corporation (NYSE:AGP) for $4.9 billion ($92 per share in cash). The deal came in at a 43 percent premium to Amerigroup’s closing share price on July 6. It represented the first major health care sector merger since President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act had been upheld in June by the Supreme Court, reported The Street.com.

From the acquisition, WellPoint with its 65-plus million health care customers (at year-end 2011) that includes those from Blue Cross and Blue Shield private plans, combined with Amerigroup’s Medicaid customers, the company will enter state sponsored health care plans. It will also now reach 19 states with 4.5 million accounts along with some dual eligible managed care accounts.

Upon announcing the deal in July, WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) executives said in a conference call they would have done the merger even without the healthcare reform expansion. At the time, Bank of American Merrill Lynch analyst Kevin Fishbeck said that the key to the merger was Wellpoint gaining access to dual eligible customers of Medicare and Medicaid, reported The Street.

Fishbeck said in a research note, “[The] company highlighted that new business wins in the duals could be dilutive initially, and then ramp up.” He supported the merger’s synergy and projected earnings.

But without Braly, does anything change with the deal?

According to David Benoit of the Wall Street Journal, some analysts said on Wednesday that the Braly exit shouldn’t affect the deal and that Wall Street views Amerigroup necessary to WellPoint diversifying its revenue.

Other positives viewed by analysts includes WellPoint’s recent announcement that the deal will now close in the fourth quarter as opposed to early 2013.

Some analysts have discussed whether Amerigroup’s CEO Jim Carlson could replace Braly. WellPoint has said a search is underway and that its interim CEO doesn’t want the gig permanently.

But was Carlson a problem for Braly?

Stifel Nicolaus analysts have said the executive may have been a reason for Braly’s departure, reported the Wall Street Journal, and noted Carlson is “a long-standing and respected managed care executive” who “has experience across all books of business, not just Medicaid.”

Another concern was raised by Susquehanna about that acquisition was, along with the recent 1-800 Contacts deal, it leaves WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) with a lot of pending integration work. Without a senior manager to do the work, it has Susquehanna “slightly nervous.”

WellPoint is currently up 7.82 percent to $61.89.

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