Cigna, Express Scripts shareholders approve $67B deal

Handshake business deal executives
The Cigna-Express Scripts merger inched closer to completion getting approval from shareholders following a public tussle with one investor. (Pixabay)

Shareholders with both Cigna and Express Scripts voted to approve the insurer’s $67 billion acquisition of the PBM, the companies announced on Friday.

The shareholder approval marks an important hurdle in finalizing the deal and follows several weeks in which Cigna tussled with activist investor Carl Icahn, momentarily raising questions about whether the deal would survive a shareholder vote.

In the end, 90% of Cigna shareholders voted to approve the deal. Likewise, Express Scripts shareholders approved the takeover with 78% of stockholders voting in favor of the deal.

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Cigna CEO David Cordani said he was "delighted" with the approval that "signals recognition of the combination’s significant value creation potential."

“Our combined company will enhance Cigna’s differentiated service-based model, fueled by actionable insights and analytics, to drive innovation and meaningful growth in a highly dynamic market environment," he added in a statement. "As a result, we will build more effective partnerships, further improve health outcomes and deliver a superior customer experience."

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The deal hit a snag earlier this month when Icahn tried to publicly kill the acquisition saying it "may well become one of the worst blunders in corporate history." He later backed off after two independent firms came out in support of the merger. 

The deal still has to pass a review by the Department of Justice. The companies said they expect it to close by the end of the year.