CareLine Shareholders Approve Merger With Canadian Firm

Shareholders of CareLine Inc. on Thursday approved the Santa Ana ambulance service company's merger with Laidlaw Inc., a Canadian transportation and waste-management company.

As part of the transaction, valued at $330 million, CareLine stockholders will receive 1.1 shares of non-voting Laidlaw stock, worth $145 million, for each CareLine share. Laidlaw also will assume CareLine debt.

CareLine will merge with Laidlaw's San Diego-based MedTrans health-care transportation unit. Laidlaw said the merged company will have annual revenue of more than $500 million.

A year ago, CareLine launched a search for a financial partner to help fund acquisitions of ambulance firms across the country, the company's merger prospectus said. The company already had racked up $170 million in debt and needed fresh capital to avoid curtailing its acquisitions.

Company officials first explored a merger with Laidlaw officials a year ago but did not reach an agreement. The companies eventually resumed discussions and struck a deal.

The transaction is scheduled to be completed today, Laidlaw said.

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