WebMD to merge with parent HLTH Corp.

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The merger of HLTH Corporation and WebMD Health late last week could make the combined company a takeover target for larger Internet companies such as Google.

HLTH announced that it would merge into its 84-percent-owned subsidiary, WebMD, in a $2.3 billion deal. Under terms of the transaction, each outstanding share of HLTH common stock will be converted into shares of WebMD common stock and $6.89 in cash. The transaction is expected to close in the second or third quarter of 2008.

WebMD's senior management team is expected to continue to lead the organization under president and CEO Wayne Gattinella.

Meanwhile, WebMD Health Corp, which provides health information through its Web site, said profit soared in the fourth quarter of 2007 due to a hefty tax gain and strong demand for online services.

WebMD's revenue for the fourth quarter and full year excluded about $1 million and $4 million, respectively, related to its offline professional medical reference and textbook publication business, which was sold on Dec. 31.
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