Lawsuits blossom as US Oncology mulls buyout offer

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US Oncology Inc. is facing two class action lawsuits in the wake of its proposed merger agreement with investment partnership Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe IX LP.

Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe -- which owns approximately 14 percent of US Oncology's common stock - has proposed purchasing US Oncology for $15.05 per share, a transaction worth an estimated $1.7 billion. The company trades on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol USON and has a 52-week trading range of $6.60 to $15.33 per share.

The complaints allege, among other assertions, that the company has breached its fiduciary duties to the stockholders of US Oncology by entering into the merger agreement -- announced on March 22 - adding that the offer is inadequate and the result of unfair dealing.

The suit seeks an injunction against the proposed transaction or, if it is consummated, rescinding the transaction, as well as money damages, attorneys' fees, expenses and other relief.

US Oncology added that it expects a third similar suit to be filed. The company countered by saying it believes that these lawsuits "lack merit and it intends to vigorously defend them."

US Oncology is based in Houston and provides cancer-related services to a network of affiliated practices of more than 875 affiliated physicians in more than 470 sites -- including 78 integrated cancer centers -- in 32 states.