Friday, 24 November, 2017

Anthem gives up Cigna bid, vows to fight on over damages

The Anthem logo outside the company’s headquarters in Indianapolis The Anthem logo outside the company’s headquarters in Indianapolis
Mae Harvey | 13 May, 2017, 09:54

Cigna Wins Approval to Exit Anthem Deal A DE judge has ruled that Cigna can walk away from its merger with Anthem after the courts blocked the merger for being anticompetitive.

Anthem (ATNM) is pulling out of its proposed bid to purchase Cigna (CI) and announced that it will not pay a breakup fee a day after Delaware Chancery Judge J. Travis Laster denied Anthem an extension on its attempted acquisition of Cigna.

Anthem, in turn, successfully compelled the court to keep Cigna in the deal as the deal headed to appeal.

"The reality is both parties probably have some risk and they'll bargain for something between zero and $1.85 billion", said Matt Cantor, an antitrust lawyer at Constantine Cannon. A federal appeals court in Washington agreed with her finding on April 28. Humana and Aetna also had their proposed merger blocked by a federal judge, although their subsequent break-up has been far less litigious - Aetna said in February it would cough up a $1bn breakup fee for Humana.

Anthem has been a leader in providing individuals with access to high quality, affordable health care and its decision to acquire Cigna was grounded in a commitment to this goal and to leading our industry during this period of dynamic change.

On Thursday, the DE court denied Anthem's request to keep Cigna in its expired $54 billion merger agreement.

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Anthem said Friday that Cigna sabotaged the merger agreement and caused "massive damages" for Anthem, which provides Blue Cross-Blue Shield coverage in several states. But Anthem beat Cigna to it.

"That's the next big question", said Ana Gupte, an analyst at Leerink Partners. The company said on Friday it would repurchase at least $1.6 billion in stock by the end of the year.

Anthem said it had a realistic shot at overcoming antitrust hurdles, either through its Supreme Court appeal or perhaps through negotiations with Trump administration antitrust officials taking the reins at the Justice Department.

Anthem shot back that Cigna had no right to unilaterally pull the plug, even after the court decision blocking their tie-up. Anthem had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. Cigna said it would also immediately increase its share buyback activity.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block the merger previous year amid concerns the combination would substantially lessen competition in insurance markets around the country.

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