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UPDATE 1-UnitedHealth to buy healthcare payments firm Equian for $3.2 bln -WSJ

-WSJ@ (Adds response from UnitedHealth, background)

June 20 (Reuters) - UnitedHealth Group Inc has agreed to buy healthcare payments firm Equian LLC from its private-equity owner New Mountain Capital for about $3.2 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The sale to the U.S. health insurer is the culmination of a months-long auction process, WSJ said https://on.wsj.com/2ZzKiPf.

It is likely that UnitedHealth would merge Equian into its Optum unit, it added.

"We don't comment on market rumors and speculation," a UnitedHealth spokesman told Reuters.

Equian did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

UnitedHealth on Wednesday won the Federal Trade Commission's approval for its acquisition of DaVita Inc's primary and urgent care unit, which will be rolled into the company's Optum Unit.

In April, Bloomberg reported that New Mountain Capital was weighing a sale of Equian. (Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Richard Chang)