Centene (CNC) - Get Centene Corporation Report reached a deal to acquire smaller rival WellCare Health Plans (WCG) - Get WellCare Health Plans, Inc. Report in a transaction with a total enterprise value of $17.3 billion.
Centene will acquire WellCare in a cash-and-stock transaction for $305.39 a share based on Centene's closing price Tuesday of $54.85. WellCare shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 3.38 shares of Centene common stock and $120 in cash for each WellCare common share.
The deal has been approved by the boards of both companies. Centene and WellCare expect to complete the merger in the first half of 2020.
The combined company would have about 22 million members across all 50 U.S. states. The combined company also would have estimated pro forma revenue in 2019 of approximately $97 billion and $5 billion in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
Shares of WellCare, the managed-care provider, jumped 10.2% to $254.26 on Wednesday. Centene declined 8% to $50.49.
Bloomberg had first reported the companies were holding merger talks.
The deal comes as the Trump administration has launched a fresh assault on Obamacare, asking an appeals court to wipe out the entire law. Companies like Centene and WellCare have prospered both from the state marketplaces that the ACA created, as well as the expansion of state Medicaid programs that the law enabled, Bloomberg noted. Both businesses would be threatened if higher courts ultimately uphold the challenge to the ACA, Bloomberg said.
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