Merge Healthcare Incorporated (MRGE) decided to raise up to $27.3 million in gross proceeds, before placement agency fees and other expenses, by offering 9,084,032 shares of the company’s common stock at a purchase price of $3.00 per share. The offer is only for select institutional investors and is expected to close on Nov. 18, 2009.

Merge will use the proceeds primarily to prepay in full its senior secured notes held by Merrick RIS, L.L.C. due June 2010. The remaining amount will be used for general corporate purposes like the working capital financing.

William Blair & Company, L.L.C. is the lead placement agent for the fund raising offer. Craig-Hallum Capital Group LLC and Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated are the co-placement agents for the offering.

Merge is a healthcare software and services company focused on integrating radiology workflow to improve productivity, profitability and patient care by fusing business and clinical workflow, and intelligently managing and distributing diagnostic images and information throughout the healthcare enterprise.

Merge was paralyzed by several issues in the past like a dwindling cash balance, management turnover, accounting miscues and litigations. The real turnaround started from the second quarter of 2008 when the company received a much needed cash infusion of $20 million from Merrick RIS, LLC in May 2008.

Merge Healthcare recently tapped the Chinese healthcare market by forming an alliance with Shanghai Kingstar Winning Co., a leading healthcare IT provider in China. The alliance is likely to widen Merge’s customer base and increase its top line. Congress’ approval of more than $20 billion in spending on health information technology is also likely to benefit the company. However, a majority of the spending in the U.S. will be felt between 2011 and 2015.

Merge’s main competitors include AllScripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions (MDRX) and Amicas, Inc. (AMCS).
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