Icahn to Urge WebMD to Buy Back Up to $1 Billion in Shares

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he plans to urge medical-information provider WebMD Health Corp. to buy back as much as $1 billion in shares through a Dutch tender offer.

Icahn proposed a high end for the auction of $36 a share, a 12 percent premium to the closing price on Nov. 28, before speculation circulated that WebMD may be sold, Icahn said today in a regulatory filing. A Dutch auction enables investors to specify a price at which they’re willing to sell.

WebMD, based in New York, surged the most in five weeks yesterday after TheStreet.com said the company was considering a sale to private equity firms. Icahn, who raised his stake in WebMD to 9.9 percent last week, said today he hadn’t heard of any such plans and didn’t support a deal with a private-equity acquirer.

Icahn proposes WebMD use cash on hand to buy back shares. The company had $1.1 billion in cash and equivalents as of Sept. 30, according to a Nov. 2 statement. Icahn and Kate Hahn, a spokeswoman for WebMD, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

WebMD rose 2.8 percent to $36.22 at the close of trading in New York. The shares have fallen 29 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meg Tirrell in New York at mtirrell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net