Yet another blow to Anthem's bid for Cigna.
Michael Nagle/Bloomberg
By Sy Mukherjee
May 11, 2017

A federal judge in Delaware has rejected Anthem’s request to prevent smaller rival health insurer and merger target Cigna from pulling out of a proposed $54 billion corporate marriage that would birth one of the largest insurers in the country. Barring an extreme turn of events, the decision likely spells death for a health care M&A dance in which the partners have grown increasingly out of step.

Several courts have ruled against the merger, agreeing with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) argument that it would decrease competition and raise major antitrust concerns. But Anthem has persisted. Just last week, the company went all the way up to the Supreme Court in a bid to save the flailing deal and asked the Delaware judge .

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That’s despite the fact that Cigna desperately wants to pull out; both companies have accused each other of souring the arrangement and Cigna has sued to collect billions in damages over alleged breaches. And if Cigna can successfully terminate the deal, the firms are in for an even longer legal haul over a $1.85 billion breakup fee that Cigna could collect (in addition to the breach of contract drama).

It’s unclear whether or not Anthem will appeal this latest decision to the Delaware Supreme Court. But the company has until Monday at noon to do so.

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