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WellCare IPO expected this week

Times Staff
Published June 14, 2004

WellCare Group Inc. of Tampa is slated to go public this week on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company, which operates Florida's largest Medicaid HMO, is expected to raise more than $117.3-million with its offering. WellCare's shares will be initially priced between $14 and $16 and will trade under the symbol WCG.

WellCare joins just a handful of Tampa companies that have gone public in the past year. In February, CEA Acquisition Corp. was launched with plans to use the IPO's proceeds to acquire a media business. Tampa's Anchor Glass came to the public market in August after a successful bankruptcy reorganization.

Nationally, investors are eagerly awaiting the IPO of Google, which runs the most successful Internet search engine. The Mountain View, Calif., company's IPO is widely seen as marking a resurgence of a public offering market that has been moribund for four years.

WellCare was started in 1985 by a group of Tampa doctors, who sold the company to investors led by financier George Soros in 2002. Soros will remain majority shareholder, with two representatives on WellCare's board, following the IPO.

WellCare now has about 665,000 members; WellCare operates Medicaid programs in Florida, New York, Connecticut, Illinois and Indiana. It also runs a Medicare HMO in Florida.

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