UPDATE 1-Express Scripts closes WellPoint drug unit deal

Tue Dec 1, 2009 7:23am EST

* WellPoint to record Q4 gain of $4.34/share from sale

* New clout for Express Scripts

NEW YORK Dec 1 (Reuters) - Express Scripts Inc (ESRX.O) said on Tuesday it closed its $4.68 billion acquisition of WellPoint Inc's (WLP.N) drug benefit business, and WellPoint said it would record a large fourth-quarter gain from the sale.

Health insurer WellPoint estimated a $4.34-per-share net gain resulting from the sale of the NextRx business. WellPoint lifted its 2009 earnings forecast to a range of $9.40 to $9.46 per share.

Excluding the net gain and other special items, WellPoint's forecast equates to $5.86 to $5.92 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, the same range as the company gave in October.

The deal, first announced in April, gives Express Scripts new clout against rivals Medco Health Solutions MHS.N and CVS Caremark Corp (CVS.N). (Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Derek Caney) ((lewis.krauskopf@thomsonreuters.com; 646-223-6082;Reuters Messaging:Lewis.Krauskopf.reuters.com@reuters.net;))

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