Cigna raises doubts about when deal with Anthem will close

Contrary to the stance of the company poised to acquire it, Cigna now says its merger with Anthem might not close before the end of the year.

"While the company continues to work toward achieving regulatory approval as quickly as possible and to target a closing date in the second half of 2016, the closing will ultimately be subject to the approval and timing of the regulators," Cigna says in a recent regulatory earnings filing. "In light of the complexity of the regulatory process and the dynamic environment, it is possible that such approvals may not be obtained in 2016."

Anthem, on the other hand, says it continues to expect the deal to close in the latter half of 2016, according to Reuters. Cigna declined to comment beyond its filing.

"Although our merger agreement with Cigna gives us until April 30, 2017, to obtain regulatory approvals, we continue to believe that we will obtain such approvals and close in the second half of 2016," said Anthem spokesperson Jill Belcher.

The merger between Anthem and Cigna, announced in late July, was the result of often-heated negotiations between the two major insurers. In late June, Cigna's board issued a sharp rebuke to Anthem's decision to publicize its takeover bid, saying it continued to have concerns about the antitrust hurdles the deal would face related to Anthem's Blue Cross Blue Shield Association membership.

Indeed, the Department of Justice--which is showing increasing willingness to challenge major mergers--could block the Anthem-Cigna deal if it deems Anthem's proposed remedy package "unworkable," one industry analyst tells CNBC.

Other analysts, however, tell the news outlet that they believe the merger is likely to pass regulatory muster, given that it has already gained approval from some states.

To learn more:
- here's Cigna's filing
- read the Reuters report
- check out the CNBC article

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