Judge temporarily bars Cigna from dumping Anthem merger deal

Dive Brief:

  • A Delaware court judge ruled Wednesday that Cigna could not summarily renege on its $48 billion merger deal with fellow health insurer Anthem following a federal judge’s decision blocking the merger, Bloomberg reports.
  • Judge Travis Laster of the Delaware Court of Chancery said that a temporary injunction would preserve the deal’s current legal status until he could hear the companies’ arguments at an April 10 hearing.
  • The ruling paves the way for Anthem to pursue its appeal of the Feb. 8 order halting the merger on grounds that it would lessen competition in the U.S. health insurance market.

Dive Insight:

The legal battle between two of the "big five" insurers has moved rapidly this week. Meanwhile, the CMS is trying to shore up the ACA exchanges to prevent more payers from pulling out, like Humana announced Tuesday.

Earlier this week, Anthem filed a motion in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals seeking an expedited review of the federal court ruling that would bring a decision before the April 30 deadline for the deal. 

On Tuesday, Cigna announced it was pulling out of the proposed merger and filed a complaint against Anthem in the Delaware court, seeking a $1.85 billion break-up fee plus $13 billion in damages. Anthem fired back with a countersuit in the same court to maintain the deal’s status pending the appeal.

In a telephonic hearing, Judge Laster said Cigna’s rush to get out of the deal amounted to the “loss of a major transaction,” which could cause Anthem significant financial harm.

Anthem and Cigna are the latest insurers to take their failed merger plans to court. Aetna shareholders brought a class action lawsuit against that company after a federal court blocked its deal with Humana, claiming they lost more than $1 billion due to inflated stock prices.

Filed Under: Payer Finance
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