September 17, 2018

Cigna-Express deal scores federal clearance; awaits final hurdles

HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
Cigna headquarters in Bloomfield.

Bloomfield health insurer Cigna notched a major victory Monday in its quest to acquire pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts for $67 billion.

The companies announced Monday the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division has cleared their proposed merger, moving them a step closer to completing the transaction by year-end.

The deal still requires state regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Cigna and Express officials said they were pleased with Monday's clearance, reiterating that the deal will help reduce healthcare costs, expand choice and improve patient outcomes.

The Justice Department's approval comes weeks after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, asked DOJ to launch a "rigorous review" of the deal, warning federal officials it would hurt market competition.

Adding concern about the fate of the deal, DOJ in July 2016 had sued to block Cigna's proposed merger with Anthem.

But Cigna continues to move through the approval process, despite other headwinds, including an attempt by activist investor Carl Icahn to block the deal.

Cigna officials said Monday they have received approval from insurance departments in 16 of 29 states needed to approve the deal.

Also last month, 90 percent of Cigna shareholders approved the company's proposed purchase of Express.

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