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WellCare and Centene close on $17 billion merger

New owner Centene said it “expects to maintain strong operations in Tampa,” which is anticipated to be the headquarters for its Medicare and pharmacy operations.
Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans will become the headquarters for Medicare and pharmacy operations now that it has been acquired in a $17 billion cash and stock deal by Centene Corp., base in St. Louis. (Times files)
Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans will become the headquarters for Medicare and pharmacy operations now that it has been acquired in a $17 billion cash and stock deal by Centene Corp., base in St. Louis. (Times files)

TAMPA — Centene Corp.'s $17 billion purchase of Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans closed as expected on Thursday.

“Centene remains committed and expects to maintain strong operations in Tampa,” Centene’s media relations office said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times. “As of the close of our acquisition, our combined workforce will have 5,400 jobs in the Tampa area. Over the next few years, we will migrate select duplicative corporate roles to other sites. At this time, it is our plan to have Tampa as our headquarters for our Medicare and pharmacy operations.”

Through the merger, the health insurance plans administered by Centene now have 24 million members across all 50 states, or 1 in 15 people in the United States. WellCare is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene, and its shares will cease trading when the stock market closes on Thursday. As of early afternoon, WellCare’s stock was trading up slightly at about $346 a share.

Related: Massive WellCare-Centene sale wins regulatory approvals and is poised to close
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