Aetna, Humana call off $34 billion deal

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Also on Tuesday, Aetna and Humana announced they had terminated their $37 billion merger following a U.S. District Court judge's ruling against the deal.

Aetna and Humana made a decision to part ways after a similar federal ruling shut down their planned merger.

Under the deal terms, Aetna now owes Humana a $1 billion payment in what's known as a breakup fee. After the decision, Aetna announced it would consider appealing, but both companies appeared to be weighing their options over the last few weeks. In addition, Aetna said that it would redeem the notes, which was issued to buy Humana, for cash.

The Blue Cross-Blue Shield carrier Anthem said Wednesday that it is seeking a restraining order to block its smaller rival from terminating their deal, which has already been blocked by a federal judge.

'It's great for consumers that the uncertainty as to Aetna Humana is resolved and both companies can go back to being aggressive competitors, and that's what our economy needs, ' said Bill Baer, who headed the antitrust division when Aetna proposed the merger.

The cases are Anthem Inc. v. Cigna Corp., No. 2017-114, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington) and Cigna Corp. v. Anthem Inc., 2017-0109, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington). The Louisville, Kentucky, insurer says it will announce its 2017 forecast and provide an update on its strategic plan after markets close Tuesday. The suit seeks declaratory judgment that Cigna has lawfully terminated the merger agreement and that Anthem is not permitted to extend the termination date.

An Anthem spokeswoman said the company is still committed to closing its deal with Cigna, signaling the breakup could be messy. That deal also had been rejected in federal court, though an appeal was filed by Anthem.

U.S. District Judge John Bates wrote in the decision last month that neither new competition nor plans to shed some of the combined company's businesses would be enough to ease antitrust concerns.

The Humana/Aetna deal has implications for another proposed healthcare deal involving Cigna and Anthem.

Last week, Humana released an earnings report that revealed little about whether the company would fight on in court or walk away from the Aetna deal. Aetna also gave up its proposal to sell Medicare Advantage assets to Molina Healthcare Inc.

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