Cigna ends merger with Anthem, sues for more than $14B

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Cigna ends merger with Anthem, sues for more than $14B

Shares of Aetna (AET) and Humana (HUM) were fractionally higher in trading before USA financial markets opened Tuesday.

Health insurer Anthem has hit back at Cigna after it said it was terminating a merger between the two companies and wants $15bn (£12bn) in fees and damages.

In a move that defies Anthem's push to fight for their deal, Cigna has terminated its merger agreement with Anthem and filed suit against the larger insurer. The other deal - a combination of Anthem and Cigna - was also blocked by the Justice Department on antitrust grounds, and a different judge upheld that decision over the last few weeks.

The companies have been quarreling for months, including during a federal trial over whether their proposed $48 billion merger violated USA antitrust law.

The deal's demise also ends a related agreement to sell certain Medicare Advantage plans to insurer Molina Healthcare.

Their deadline to complete the deal or agree to extend it while they appealed was February 15.

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But in a statement issued Tuesday, Cigna said that given the court's decision, 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". Humana said last week that it would give its outlook for this year by February 16.

And that sets up one of the more peculiar aspects of the Anthem-Cigna merger trial. A federal judge in Washington agreed last week, saying the deal would violate antitrust law.

In a press release, Cigna announced it had filed a lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court against Anthem seeking a judgment that the merger agreement had been terminated lawfully and seeking a $1.85 billion termination fee, along with an additional $13 billion in damages.

Aetna had argued in court that even with the merger there would be ample competition for Medicare Advantage. Meanwhile, Aetna will be fine on its own, Lekraj said.

Medicare Advantage plans are privately run versions of the government's Medicare program for people who are over age 65 or disabled.

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