Managed care outfit
WellPoint Health Networks'
long-in-the-waiting-room acquisition of
has again been delayed, this time by a $675 million all-cash competing offer from
Although Cerulean, parent of
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia
, had agreed to the WellPoint deal in July 1998, shareholder suits blocked it. WellPoint last month agreed to pay $5 million to settle them.
WellPoint boosted its bid to $680 million after Cerulean notified it last week of Trigon's offer, the company said in a Sunday night statement. Cerulean let it be known, the statement added, that the offer wasn't good enough because it "preserves WellPoint's previously negotiated right to match any competing proposal."
WellPoint, a $6.3 billion company that plans to make Cerulean a wholly owned subsidiary, said it expects to offer a new response within a few days.
WellPoint's stock closed Friday at $100.75. It lost ground last week after
downgraded a handful of HMO stocks.