Appeals court upholds decision to block Anthem bid for Cigna

Appeals court upholds decision to block Anthem bid for Cigna

Appeals court upholds decision to block Anthem bid for Cigna

In a split decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit disagreed with Anthem's contention that the Justice Department and lower court improperly rejected its assertions that the deal would lead to billions of dollars in medical savings.

Cigna has been wanting to end the merger plans for months.

Shares of Cigna closed Friday at $156.37, up 0.1 percent, while Anthem shares ended at $177.89, down 0.2 percent. (NYSE:CI) The federal appeals panel in Washington upheld the lower court's ruling by a 2-1 vote. Even Cigna has soured on the deal, filing a separate lawsuit seeking a $1.85 billion termination fee from Anthem and billions more in damages.

Neither company immediately responded to a request for comment.

While these legal matters are in realm of their own, the two companies likely won't have much to argue about soon, as the appeal's court ruling Friday effectively kills the merger bid.

A hearing is scheduled for May 8 in the DE court, where Cigna again will seek to opt out of the deal. The possibility of reviving the deal before the April 30 merger agreement expiration is slim. After losing at trial, Aetna and Humana terminated their deal.

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Anthem told the DE court in a filing on Wednesday that there were "meaningful opportunities" to complete deal, saying it was seeking a settlement with the Justice Department under the new Trump administration.

According to Anthem, the merger's efficiencies would benefit customers directly by reducing the costs of customer medical claims through lower provider rates, without harm to the providers.

The case is captioned United States et al. v. Anthem Inc. and Cigna Corp., and is docketed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia under Civil Action Nos.

Earlier this year, another federal judge blocked Aetna Inc.'s roughly $34 billion acquisition of Medicare Advantage coverage provider Humana Inc. "The record is clear that Anthem, unlike Cigna, has already achieved whatever economies of scale are available". "The problem for this merger, if there is one, is in its effects in the upstream market - namely, in its effects on hospitals and doctors as a result of Anthem-Cigna's enhanced negotiating power", he wrote. If not, Kavanaugh said, he'd have allowed the combination.

But U.S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh dissented. Customers who value those discounts above Cigna's offerings can simply choose Anthem as their insurer, she said. He said he would send the case back to the lower court for further deliberations.

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