UnitedHealth's $5.4B LHC Group buy set to close this week

Another controversial UnitedHealth Group acquisition is set to close this week.

According to a notice filed with the Nasdaq, home health provider LHC Group will halt trading on the exchange after markets close Wednesday, and its merger with UHG is "tentatively scheduled" to close the following morning before trading begins. Should the deal close as planned, LHC's shares will be suspended on Friday, Feb. 24.

The notice notes that the $5.4 billion deal will close pending regulatory approvals, as it has been under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC first requested additional information on the merger in June, and the two companies extended the agreement in December as the probe continued.

In a June Securities and Exchange Commission filing, LHC Group said both parties are "working cooperatively" with the FTC as part of the investigation.

The FTC's probe isn't the first the first hurdle the two companies faced in closing this deal. A shareholder filed suit against LHC in May 2022, saying that it misled shareholders in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that recommends they back the merger. The suit said that filing omitted key information on LHC's financials as well as details on the sales process in a bid to secure shareholder approval.

Should the merger, which was first announced in March 2022, close this week as expected, LHC Group will join UnitedHealth's Optum subsidiary.

The deal also isn't the only UnitedHealth acquisition to be mired in controversy over the past year. The insurance giant triumphed in a legal challenge from the Department of Justice (DOJ) over its $8 billion Change Healthcare buy. DOJ filed suit to block the deal amid concerns that Change's data could make UHG privy to information from other payers it could use to get a leg up on the competition.

DOJ said in November that it plans to appeal the ruling but has kept mum since then.