What the FTC's, DOJ's track records in antitrust reviews could mean for CVS-Aetna deal

Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health's planned acquisition of Aetna is expected to close next year, but a number of regulatory hurdles remain, including antitrust review.

This review could be conducted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice or both. But antitrust experts told Reuters CVS likely wants the FTC to do the job, not the DOJ.

Both agencies bring experience in antitrust dealings to the table. The DOJ's legal involvement helped prevent Aetna's proposed acquisition of Humana. Additionally, the DOJ recently sued to block AT&T's proposed $85.4 billion merger with Time Warner.

On the other hand, the FTC, which Reuters notes is generally more lenient, approved the merger between Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens Boots Alliance and Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid in September.

Ultimately, CVS and Aetna will consider the issue during clearance discussions, although a "coin toss" could end up being the deciding factor, according to the report.

"It goes to a coin toss via a computer program if they (agency officials) can't work it out," one unnamed expert told Reuters.

 

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