July 23--Anthem Inc. could announce as early as Thursday afternoon that it will acquire Bloomfield-based Cigna Corp. for more than $48 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on its website Wednesday night.
The Journal said Anthem is expected to pay about $187 a share for Cigna, citing people familiar with the matter.
A Cigna spokesman declined to comment on the report Wednesday night.
An agreement would end months of talks in which Anthem has made offers for Cigna at progressively rising prices -- including an extraordinary public volley of letters released by the two companies over a weekend in June.
On June 20, Anthem released a letter from its CEO, Joseph Swedish, to the Cigna board, in which Swedish blasted Cigna CEO David Cordani for spurning a $184-per-share bid, totaling $47 billion.
Cigna responded the following day with its own public letter, signed by Cordani and Isaiah Harris, the Cigna chairman, in which they spelled out the reasons the deal didn't make sense.
Among the stumbling blocks, according to the letter from Swedish, was who would lead the combined company. Cordani initially insisted he become CEO immediately, but in June pushed for an assurance that he would be CEO in one or two years upon Swedish's retirement.
Anthem said Cordani would be a top executive under Swedish, but was insisting that the Simsbury resident receive no assurance of his future role.
On July 4, Hartford-based Aetna Inc. announced it would acquire rival Humana, based in Louisville, in a $37 billion deal. That intensified pressure on Cigna and other big health insurers to pair off in order to cut costs, as Obamacare has triggered a race for new customers -- and promises to reward companies that manage the healthcare of large populations.
Any deal would draw close scrutiny over antitrust concerns and there has been some speculation that the U.S. Department of Justice would examine the Aetna-Humana combination and a Cigna-Anthem deal together.
Two weeks ago, CNBC reported that Anthem and Cigna had essentially resolved leadership and other governance issues -- including how many seats each company would get on the new board of directors. UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest health insurer, was also said to be interested in a possible bid for Cigna, but that combination is less likely, CNBC said.
The combination would create a health insurance giant with 53.2 million customers across all lines of business. Those include government-funded programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, commercial health insurance sold to employers, health plans sold to individuals and international business.
The deal would catapult Anthem to the No. 1 position ahead of UnitedHealthcare, which has 45.8 million customers.
It remains unclear how both the Aetna and Cigna deals would affect employment in the state.
Anthem has a subsidiary in Wallingford, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut. Cigna is headquartered in Bloomfield and employs about 4,200 in Connecticut.
Cigna appeals to Anthem because of its strong national accounts business, which is insurance offered to large employers; its stock of coverage from mid-sized businesses; and its specialty programs such as dental, vision and behavioral health. Cigna also was attractive for its wellness programs, Medicare business and its international business.
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