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Cigna-Express Scripts deal gets U.S. antitrust approval

 Cigna-Express Scripts deal gets U.S. antitrust approval

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) - Health insurer Cigna Corp's $52 billion acquisition of pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts Holding Co has passed U.S. antitrust scrutiny, the companies said on Monday, allowing them to proceed with a combination they say will lead to lower costs by better coordinating pharmacy and medical benefits.

The new company will marry Cigna's business of managing health plans for corporations and the government with Express Scripts' role handling pharmacy benefits for those same customers. Express Scripts also owns speciality pharmacies that distribute pricey drugs.

"We are pleased that the Department of Justice has cleared our transaction and that we are another step closer to completing our merger,” Cigna Chief Executive David Cordani said in a statement.

Wall Street analysts had expected the antitrust approval as the companies have little overlap in their businesses.

The decision may bode well for the pending U.S. antitrust review of CVS Health Corp's proposed $69 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna Inc .

The Justice Department was not immediately available to comment on the status of the CVS-Aetna deal.

Cigna and Express Scripts said they have already obtained clearances for the deal from departments of insurance in 16 states and are working with regulators in remaining jurisdictions to obtain clearance for the merger.

They continue to expect the deal to close by the end of the year, subject to the satisfaction of all closing conditions.

Cigna shares were up 1 percent, while Express Scripts shares rose 3.7 percent.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer in New York, Diane Bartz in Washington and Aakash B in Bengaluru; Writing by Bill Bekrot; Editing by Bill Rigby)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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Updated Date: Sep 18, 2018 02:05:13 IST