Amid appeal to Supreme Court, Anthem asks court to keep Cigna from exiting merger pact

Anthem is asking for a 60-day preliminary injunction to keep Cigna in their merger contract while it appeals its case to the Supreme Court. (Matthew Hurst/CC BY-SA 2.0)

On Monday, Anthem made its case to keep Cigna from ending its merger agreement while the larger insurer mounts a last-ditch effort to save the deal.

A federal judge ruled against the Anthem-Cigna merger in February, after which Cigna sued its would-be acquirer in a bid to exit their contract and collect damages. After being granted a preliminary restraining order to keep Cigna from breaking the contract, Anthem continued to fight for the deal in federal appellate court, but a panel of judges ruled in April to uphold the lower court’s decision.

Now, Anthem is asking for a 60-day preliminary injunction to keep Cigna in the merger contract while it awaits word from the Supreme Court on whether it will review the appellate court’s ruling, according to Reuters.

Arguing Anthem's case in Delaware’s Court of Chancery, attorney Glenn Kurtz said the insurer is also hoping to negotiate a settlement with the Justice Department under the Trump administration—a prospect that the American Medical Association has previously criticized.

Kurtz also presented evidence that Cigna and its CEO, David Cordani, breached their contract by failing to help close the deal. However, Cigna’s attorney argued that Anthem was at fault, Reuters reported.

"Anthem drove this transaction into a regulatory ditch and had Cigna tied up in the back seat," said William Savitt, of the firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Vice Chancellor Travis Laster, who presided over the hearing, said he would rule as soon as possible on Anthem’s request for a preliminary injunction.

Monday’s hearing was just the latest chapter in what has long been an acrimonious relationship between the two insurers despite their plan to become one company. The tie-up was fraught from the start, as Cigna at one point publicly rebuked Anthem for making its takeover bid public.

During the antitrust trial, testimony shed further light on how the two companies’ rift developed as the deal progressed. Even when making their case in court, the insurers were rarely on the same page, with Cigna at one point cross-examining Anthem’s own expert, the presiding judge noted in her opinion.