Cigna sues Anthem after USA court blocks health merger

What had been an acrimonious possible pairing ended in yet more acrimony as Cigna said it will seek a $1.85 billion breakup fee plus $13 billion in damages from Anthem.

Cigna sued Anthem in Delaware's Chancery Court for a declaratory judgment that it had legally terminated the agreement and that Anthem couldn't extend the termination date for the transaction.

Shares of Anthem were down about half a percent immediately after the announcement.

To view the full article, register now. Aetna agreed to acquire Humana in July 2015, and the US sued to block the takeover about a year later.

Both proposed mergers were blocked by federal judges, who agreed with Justice Department antitrust regulators that reducing the number of major USA insurers from five to three could harm consumers.

Aetna and Humana called off a $34 billion proposal to combine the two major health insurers after a federal judge, citing antitrust concerns, shot down the deal. "We are disappointed to take this course of action after 19 months of planning, but both companies need to move forward with their respective strategies in order to continue to meet member expectations", Bertolini said.

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Anthem said it had extended the proposal through April 30 after the deal was blocked.

"Therefore, Cigna's purported termination of the Merger Agreement is invalid".

"In light of the Court's ruling", Cigna writes, it "believes that the transaction can not and will not achieve regulatory approval and that terminating the agreement is in the best interest of Cigna's shareholders".

"U.S. District Judge John Bates found that to be the case, writing in his decision that, "the merger of Aetna and Humana would be likely to substantially lessen competition in markets for individual Medicare Advantage plans and health insurance sold on the public exchanges" in 364 counties".

Another federal judge rejected Blue Cross-Blue Shield carrier Anthem's bid to buy Cigna. Together, the two proposed mega-deals would have trimmed the number of large, national private health insurers from five to three.

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