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Centene

FILE PHOTO: A rainbow-colored covered walkway at Centene's Clayton headquarters, opened in 2010, as seen on May 14, 2014. Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle, scordle@post-dispatch.com

Ten days ahead of the vote that decides whether healthcare giant Centene Corp. will acquire its competitor, WellCare Health Plans Inc., two key advisory firms are encouraging stockholders to vote 'yes.'

Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis was the latest to issue its recommendation in favor of the deal, in the same week that Clayton-based health insurer Centene announced that another firm, Institutional Shareholder Services, had given its vote of confidence.

The deal announced in March still faces regulatory approval, as Glass Lewis noted in its report.

"The Centene/WellCare merger would create the largest healthcare company focused on government-sponsored programs and thus could draw the ire of regulators," the report said.

Stockholders will decide on the acquisition in a vote on June 24.

The deal, valued at more than $17 billion, is expected to close in the first half of 2020. The combined company would have about 22 million members in the U.S., Centene and Tampa-based WellCare reported in March.