Date
18 December 2017
WebMD ran a five-month auction and solicited bids from more than 100 companies and private equity firms. Photo: Bloomberg
WebMD ran a five-month auction and solicited bids from more than 100 companies and private equity firms. Photo: Bloomberg

KKR nears deal to acquire WebMD

Private equity firm KKR & Co LLP  is nearing an all-cash deal to acquire WebMD Health Corp, a U.S. online health publisher with a market capitalization of US$2.1 billion, Reuters reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

The deal would bring under one roof WebMD’s websites, such as WebMD.com, Medscape.com and MedicineNet.com, with those owned by another KKR company, Internet Brands Inc, including DentalPlans.com, VeinDirectory.org and AllAboutCounseling.com.

WebMD is close to agreeing to a deal to sell itself to KKR after running a five-month auction and soliciting bids from more than 100 companies and private equity firms, the people said. The deal is expected to be announced by Monday.

The exact price KKR was offering could not be learned.

WebMD declined to comment, and KKR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A deal would make WebMD the latest healthcare media company to be sold. In December, j2 Global Inc’s digital media arm Ziff Davis LLC acquired Everyday Health Inc., a U.S. operator of health-related websites, for US$465 million, including debt.

Founded in 1996, WebMD has grown into one of the most popular health websites for consumers and medical professionals, attracting more than 70 million monthly unique visitors in 2016, according to analytics company comScore Inc.

WebMD also owns medical news and education brand Medscape, which accounted for around 60 percent of its advertising revenue in 2016.

The New York-based company said in February it would explore its options, after a slowdown in advertising paid for by pharmaceutical companies. Activist hedge funds Blue Harbor Group and Jana Partners subsequently disclosed stakes in WebMD.

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