Aetna, Humana walk away from $34 billion deal after court ruling

Posted February 15, 2017

On the heels of Aetna's (AET - Free Report) and Humana's (HUM - Free Report) announcement, health insurance competitors Cigna (CI - Free Report) and Anthem (ANTM - Free Report) also announced that their merger deal is done-zo. What had been an acrimonious possible pairing ended in yet more acrimony as Cigna said it will seek a $1.85 billion breakup fee plus $13 billion in damages from Anthem.

Cigna said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission it believes the transaction "cannot and will not" be approved by regulators and terminating it is in the best interest of its shareholders.

Aetna spokesman TJ Crawford said the insurer was reviewing the decision "and giving serious consideration to an appeal after putting forward a compelling case".

Thomas Noland, a spokesman for Humana, said in an email that the company had always known that the deal might not go through.

Last Wednesday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson blocked a $48 billion merger between health insurers Anthem and Cigna. At the same time, Cigna seemed hesitant to commit to fighting for the merger.

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Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini said in a company release Tuesday that "the current environment makes it too challenging to continue pursuing the transaction".

After a year of review, however, the federal government and nine attorneys general sued to block both mergers, saying that reducing the marketplace from four national insurers to two would have enormous harms on competition. But those companies have not yet announced a formal termination of their merger agreement and could still appeal.

Anthem rejected the claim, calling Cigna's "purported" termination of the deal "invalid". Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna said it made a decision to quit the exchanges in 2017 purely for financial reasons, but Bates did not buy that argument.

Additionally, Aetna said it has terminated its previously announced agreement to sell certain Medicare Advantage assets to Molina Healthcare, Inc.