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WebMD Says Talks on Possible Sale Never Led to Proposals

No formal proposals were ever received, the New York-based company said in a regulatory filing today. WebMD had said on Jan. 10 that it ended discussions that might have led to a possible sale. No potential buyers were named by the company.

WebMD initially contacted five potential purchasers during September and October after earlier receiving an expression of interest from a private equity firm, according to the filing. Seven potential private equity buyers received due diligence materials on the company. Based on talks with the possible bidders, WebMD concluded any formal proposals would be less than the market price of the shares outstanding.

“Discussions with the potential private equity buyers never progressed to the stage where the private equity firms made a proposal,” WebMD said in the filing.

Kate Hahn, a spokeswoman at WebMD, and Risa Fisher, in investor relations at WebMD, didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who owned or controlled 7.94 percent of WebMD’s shares outstanding as of October, yesterday called for the company to repurchase as much as $1 billion in stock through a Dutch action with $30 at the high end of the range. WebMD said today that its filing was in response to inquiries from Icahn and other investors.

Softbank Corp. wasn’t involved in the potential sales process, WebMD said. Tokyo-based Softbank Corp. may have been interested in WebMD, The New York Post reported Dec. 30, without saying where it got the information.



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