Cigna-Express Scripts deal gets U.S. antitrust approval

Cigna sign

Well being insurer Cigna Corp's (CI.N) $fifty two billion acquisition of pharmacy advantages supervisor Specific Scripts Retaining Co has passed US antitrust scrutiny, the companies acknowledged on Monday, allowing them to proceed with a combination they train will lead to lower funds by better coordinating pharmacy and medical advantages.

The companies said, to date, that they had obtained clearances from departments of insurance in 16 states, and are working with regulators in the remaining jurisdictions to obtain clearances for the merger.

The Department of Justice on Monday said it will not challenge Cigna's $67 billion acquisition of Express Scripts because the deal "is unlikely to result in harm to competition or consumers". "... The Justice Department review of CVS's planned purchase of Aetna may conclude this month, but will take longer because of divestitures needed to resolve competitive concerns, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters".

Cigna and Express Scripts, based in St. Louis, announced the deal in March, saying it would help control health care costs as consolidation picks up in the insurance and pharmacy benefits management industries. Cigna and Express Scripts said they expect the deal will close by year-end 2018, subject to the satisfaction of all closing conditions.

Icahn, who built a stake in Cigna, urged shareholders earlier this summer to vote against the deal. "The value that we deliver together will help put our society on a far more sustainable path - one that helps health care professionals close gaps in care and supports our customers along their health journey".

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"During the Antitrust Division's comprehensive, six-month investigation, it received over two million documents, analyzed transactional data from the merging companies and other industry firms, and interviewed over 100 knowledgeable industry participants", the Justice Department stated. The deal won't significantly reduce competition for the services provided by pharmacy-benefits managers or raise costs for Cigna's rivals, the department said in a statement.

In the statement, Cigna and Express Scripts said the DOJ has cleared the pending merger, "terminating the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976". A federal judge blocked that deal in February 2017.

Both Express Scripts and Cigna shares closed higher Monday from the previous close following the DOJ clearance.

After its relationship with Anthem soured, Cigna wasted no time looking for another partner. Express Scripts shares surged 4% in Monday afternoon trade, and Cigna shares rose almost 2%, compared with a 0.5% slump in the S&P 500 and a 0.3% decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Express Scripts is one of three massive pharmacy benefit managers. The agency had asked for more information from the companies back in April.

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