UnitedHealth a 2nd-round bidder for athenahealth

Following an unsolicited takeover bid by activist investor Elliott Management in May, UnitedHealth Group is reportedly one of the second-round bidders to express interest in acquiring athenahealth, according to Dealreporter.

Bain Capital and TPG are also reportedly in the running to purchase the health IT vendor.

Numerous athenahealth shareholders have encouraged the company to consider a sale, according to the Politico Morning eHealth newsletter. Athenahealth Executive Chairman Jeff Immelt said during the company's second quarter earnings call that the board is still considering a sale, merger or keeping the company an independent entity.

Citi analyst Stephanie Demko told Politico a sale to UnitedHealth is "unlikely." Instead, Ms. Demko said the company may turn to a financial sponsor, rather than strategic acquirer. However, UnitedHealth Group's health services platform Optum could serve as a potential home for athenahealth's products, Politico notes.

In early August, David Einhorn, hedge fund manager at investment firm Greenlight Capital, blamed his fund's poor performance on athenahealth. Specifically, he suggested an unnamed activist investor — presumably Elliott Management — had "little interest in actually buying the company, but hopes someone else does."   

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