CalPERS will oppose the proposed merger of WellPoint Health Networks Inc. and Anthem Inc., citing excessive pay packages to be given to top WellPoint executives, CalPERS announced today. The $162 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, plans to call on other shareowners to oppose the merger.
CalPERS cited documents released by the state's managed health care department showing "WellPoint's executives stand to receive bonuses, severance payments and vested stock options totaling more than $600 million."
"This is beyond the realm of excessive," Sean Harrigan, CalPERS president, said in a statement. "We oppose this merger because the only ones it will help are the elite corps of senior managers who have structured it in a way that benefits those without any tie to future performance of the future entity."
CalPERS owns 721,840 shares of WellPoint, Thousand Oaks, Calif., and 612,938 shares of Anthem, Indianapolis. Shareholders of both companies will vote on the merger June 28. A WellPoint spokesman didn't return a call seeking comment by press time.