Shareholders of Woodland Hills health insurance provider Health Net Inc. and St. Louis-based Centene Corp. have approved the two companies’ planned merger, which is scheduled to close early next year.

Health Net stockholders convened at a special meeting in Woodland Hills last Friday, where 97 percent of them voted to approve the merger. Almost all of Centene’s shareholders – 99 percent of those who cast votes, according to the company – also gave the transaction a thumbs up in a vote last week.

After the merger, which will create a global health care operation, Centene shareholders will own 71 percent of the combined company and Health Net shareholders will own 29 percent.

Health Net shares closed up $1.79, or 2.8 percent, Tuesday to $65.17 on the Nasdaq.