GE Healthcare to buy IDX

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In a move to boost its information technology portfolio, GE Healthcare today announced its intention to purchase IT-giant IDX Systems Corp. The merger agreement totals approximately $1.2 billion, with IDX shareholders expected to receive $44 per share payable in cash (a 20 percent-plus premium on the stock price), according to a release.

 "GE and IDX have a shared vision on how to accelerate the adoption of electronic health records across the globe," said Joe Hogan, president and CEO, GE Healthcare upon the announcement. "We are extremely excited about joining with IDX and believe that our combined offerings are in line with where healthcare is headed and match the needs of our customers."

The combination of companies is expected to create a comprehensive suite of clinical, imaging and administrative information systems on the market, according to the companies.

Vishal Wanchoo, president and CEO, GEHC Information Technologies, said that through the acquisition "GE Healthcare will help accelerate IDX's current solution development and deployment projects, which will benefit IDX customers and provide enhanced opportunities for IDX employees."

Jim Crook, CEO, IDX in a webcast this morning on the acquisition restated several times that IDX had found the "right partner" from an employee, shareholder, and customer standpoint. Beyond the general statement of broadening the reach of both companies in information technologies, Crook emphasized IDX's strong capabilities in workflow for specialty care and offerings in clinical data repositories as some of the key reasons the company was attractive to GEHC.

Regarding IDX's relationship with current customers, and especially with ongoing business opportunities in the United Kingdom such as the company's involvement in the NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) initiative, Crook stated that nothing would change. Regardless of the acquisition, current customers will continue to be supported and that the company's opportunities in the U.K. remain, in fact they might benefit.
   
As for Allscripts and Stentor, two companies with which IDX has ongoing agreements, Crook said nothing will change. The 10-year strategic alliance with Allscripts which is due to expire in January 2011 will be seen through, and the nine remaining years in partnership with Stentor also will continue. Though Crook did acknowledge that IDX's relationship as a reseller for Stentor had become something of what he called a "coopetition" rather than cooperation in light of Stentor's acquisition by Philips Medical Systems. Still, it will remain, he said.

Integration of the two companies' products will begin immediately. GE plans to integrate IDX's systems with its Centricity line and the company intends to accelerate development of the products that IDX was in the process of developing and deploying. Crook also said that no current change in control within IDX was currently planned.

Last year IDX posted sales of $520.7 million with profits of $31.7 million and has a considerable install base of 3,400 sites comprised largely of physician offices and full scale hospital networks. Thus, the motivation for GE to purchase the company is fairly clear.

The acquisition is expected to close by the beginning of next year. The transaction still needs regulatory and IDX shareholder approval, though the Boards of Directors of GE and IDX have approved the transaction, the companies said.

Shares of IDX were climbing $8.09, or 23 percent, to $43.26 on the news this morning, while GE stock was down 22 cents to $33.27.

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