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

Reuters

Reuters

The Company looks forward to discussing its strategic growth plan during an Investor Day to be held on June 21, 2017 in New York City.

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.

The judge stayed the ruling temporarily so Anthem can consider whether to seek appellate review, a decision it must make by Monday.

"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.

Anthem has said its argument that a merger would be beneficial to employer customers was backed by one of the appeals court judges.

This is the end of Anthem-Cigna, and it could not have been a more flawless example of the squabbling between the two health insurance giants that went on for more than a year.

Cigna still has a lawsuit against Anthem in which it is seeking not just the breakup fee, but also more than $13 billion in damages.

But the company threw in the towel in mid-February after the deal was successfully opposed in federal court by the Department of Justice with backing from eleven U.S. states.

The Anthem-Cigna merger has been a long, disappointing road, with the U.S. Justice Department successfully blocking the merger in February, citing antitrust concerns.

Those companies said they had mutually agreed to end the merger agreement, with Aetna saying it would pay Humana a US$1 billion breakup fee as set by the agreement.

But Cigna says Anthem marched ahead with a failed strategy that had little chance to win federal regulatory approval.

"That's the next big question", she said.

Cigna Chief Executive Officer David Cordani has estimated that Cigna would have $7 billion to $14 billion of deployable capital by the middle of this year. The high end of that range includes extra debt the company could take on if it decided to make acquisitions, Cordani has said.

Indianapolis-based Anthem announced its decision a day after a DE judge refused its request to extend a ban blocking Cigna from pulling out of the deal. Republicans are working to gut the law and rewrite insurance rules. "I would be surprised if anybody did anything there for a while".

Cigna, ranked No. 5 in the industry, was suing in DE to terminate the merger while Anthem pursued appeals of the antitrust decision.

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