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Rating Action on WellPoint Notes

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Rating agencies, A.M. Best Co., Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (S&P) and Moody’s Investor Services of Moody's Corp. (MCO - Free Report) have assigned debt ratings to the newly issued senior unsecured notes of WellPoint Inc. . While Moody’s assigned a “Baa2” rating to the notes with a stable outlook, S&P rated these with an “A-”. Additionally, A. M. Best rated the notes “bbb+” and placed these under review with negative implications.

The financial strength ratings (FSR), issuer credit ratings (ICR) and existing debt ratings of WellPoint were also placed under the review, with a negative outlook, by A. M. Best in July 2012. These ratings were placed under review following the company’s announcement of a deal to acquire Amerigroup Corporation and are expected to remain under review till the closure of the deal. Meanwhile, A.M. Best will continue evaluating WellPoint’s operating results, capitalization level, capital structure and other relevant metrics, which affect the company’s ratings.

The Amerigroup acquisition is also the reason behind the issuance of these notes. Earlier this week, WellPoint issued 1.25% senior unsecured notes due 2015 worth $625 million, 1.875% senior unsecured notes due 2018 worth $625 million, 3.30% senior unsecured notes due 2023 worth $1 billion and 4.65% senior unsecured notes due 2043 worth $1 billion to partly finance the acquisition. According to Reuters, Citigroup Inc. (C - Free Report) , Credit Suisse Group (CS - Free Report) and Deutsche Bank AG (DB - Free Report) acted as the book-running managers for the sale.

The $4.9 billion acquisition deal was announced in July this year. WellPoint will pay $92.00 per share to buy all the outstanding shares of Amerigroup. This reflects a 43% premium on Amerigroup’s closing price of $64.34 on July 6. Apart from the proceeds from the issue of the new notes, WellPoint will fund the purchase with its cash reserves and additional borrowings via commercial papers.

WellPoint currently carries a Zacks #4 Rank, which translates into a short-term Sell rating. We maintain a long-term ‘Neutral’ rating on its shares.

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