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West Penn Can't Look Elsewhere

A judge says the Pittsburgh-based West Penn Allegheny Health System can't seek other potential buyers, in granting an injunction requested by Highmark Inc. which still hopes to complete a $475 million takeover of the hospital network.

West Penn executives contend Highmark's insistence that West Penn file for bankruptcy to reduce nearly $1 billion in debt is a deal breaker.

But Allegheny County Judge Christine Ward says the merger deal requires West Penn to give Highmark 30 days to repair any perceived breach of contract — but West Penn, instead, unilaterally backed out of the deal.

West Penn wanted to woo other potential buyers and still keep $200 million health insurer Highmark has already invested in the deal.

Instead, Ward's ruling preserves the status quo and prevents West Penn from fielding or soliciting other takeover offers.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.