Elliott Management puts brakes on athenahealth acquisition, causing shares to tumble

Whether the hedge fund is abandoning its bid or holding out for a lower share price remains to be seen, but the cloud IT company has extended its timeline for a final offer.
By Mike Miliard
10:38 AM
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athenahealth booth at HIMSS17.

The ongoing saga of athenahealth and Elliott Management continues. Shares of the cloud-based health IT company fell sharply Tuesday morning on news that the hedge fund – which has recently been seen as the most likely candidate to acquire the company after a long and contentious courtship – has reportedly recoiled from the $160 share price.

While activist investor Paul Singer may finally be throwing in the towel after many months of pressure on the Watertown, Massachusetts company, he may also simply be angling for a lower price. Reports earlier this month, in fact, indicated that EHR rival Cerner and insurer UnitedHealthcare are not interested in athenahealth.

Now, athenahealth seems willing to be patient and weigh its options, having extended the due date for a final bid by 10 days, according to the New York Post.

Elliott Management had indicated its willingness to pay the $160 share price, a total of some $6.9 billion, for the company in May.

But by June – when athenahealth founder and CEO Jonathan Bush was forced to step down after allegations of past domestic violence – at least one Wall Street observer wondered whether the sale process might eventually drag on so long that Elliott would rescind its offer, likely knocking the share price back down to the $135-$140 range.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com