A Medical Device Daily

Guidant (Indianapolis) reported that it has set April 27 as the date for a meeting for shareholders to vote on the proposed mega-merger between it and Johnson & Johnson (J&J; New Brunswick, New Jersey).

Shareholders of record as of March 21 will be entitled to vote on the deal.

The companies in mid-December reported their definitive agreement in which J&J will acquire Guidant (Medical Device Daily, Dec. 17, 2004). The deal has been valued at $24 billion, with J&J to acquire the broad range of Guidant's cardiovascular technology and create a new device and diagnostic unit named Guidant. Late-July was set as a tentative date for closing the deal when it was first unveiled.

The merger also remains subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and European Union merger regulations, as well as other customary conditions.

Sola International (San Diego) reported completing its merger with Sun Acquisition, becoming an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Carl Zeiss TopCo (Jenna, Germany).

As a result of the merger, each share of Sola common stock outstanding immediately prior to the merger was converted into the right to receive $28 in cash, without interest.

Sola manufactures eyeglass lenses, primarily focusing on the plastic lens segment of the global market, and particularly, it says, "on higher-margin, value-added products."

Sola's global presence includes manufacturing and distribution sites in three major regions: North America, Europe and Rest of World (primarily Australia, Asia and South America) and about 6,600 employees in 27 countries servicing customers in over 50 markets worldwide.

In other dealmaking activity:

• Wizzard Software (Pittsburgh) reported that it has agreed to acquire the assets of Interim Health Care of Wyoming (Casper), a home healthcare franchise agency, for its MedivoxRx Technologies subsidiary. Interim provides a range of visiting nurse services to the elderly, wounded and sick.

Chris Spencer, Wizzard CEO, said, "The healthcare industry has proven to be a significant adopter of speech technologies, and we have been planning to make other healthcare-related acquisitions to complement our speech and talking pill bottle products, since our acquisition of MedivoxRx. We believe there are major opportunities in: adding speech recognition to forms for the visiting nurses; providing patients with our talking pill bottle and telephone (speech-based) medication reminder services; using WizzScribe for fast and accurate medical transcription; and offering many of our customer's 'talking products' such as blood pressure monitors, medication alerts and other talking medical devices. We feel this acquisition in particular, and our overall acquisition strategy, will prove to be extremely synergistic and profitable for our MedivoxRx Technologies subsidiary."

Wizzard said it plans to acquire up to 12 home healthcare agencies for the MedivoxRx Technologies subsidiary, with a variety of goals, including encouraging economies of scale; increasing productivity by adding speech technology to forms and other processes; increasing revenues by offering off-the-shelf speech based products such as talking blood pressure monitors, talking medication reminders, talking insulin reminders, etc.; aggressively adopting "talking" telehealth as a means to increase patient visits without increasing staff; and using these acquisitions as a platform for building customized home health care speech technology systems which can then be sold to the other 7,000 HHAs in the U.S.

Founded in 1996, Wizzard Software bills itself as a leader in the speech technology application development market using its expertise in consulting, speech development tools and building speech based applications for the computer desktop and Internet.

In April 2004, Wizzard acquired MedivoxRx Technologies, the originator of "Rex," the talking prescription pill bottle, which "talks" to patients, allowing them to distinguish what type of medication is in the bottle and hear critical information on dosage amounts and refill parameters.