Judge expected to block Anthem-Cigna deal

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U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is expected to shut down Indianapolis-based Anthem's proposed $54 billion acquisition of Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna as soon as Thursday, Reuters reports.

Judge Jackson has yet to issue a ruling on the case, according to Reuters. The Justice Department sued the insurers last July over concerns the acquisition would impede health insurance competition and increase healthcare costs. The trial began Nov. 21 and ended Jan. 4.

Earlier on Thursday Anthem extended the transaction's deadline from Jan. 31 to April 30, "regardless of the outcome of the District Court's proceeding," Anthem wrote in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The insurer could appeal the judge's decision, but it would have to win the appeal and gain 14 state approvals before the April 30 deadline.

Matthew Cantor, partner at antitrust and litigation firm Constantine Cannon, said it has been a "tough deal to get through since day one. I do expect the deal to be blocked for the reasons people have been saying for [a while] now. It's a lot of concentration, and it doesn't seem like there's going to be much efficiency," he said, in terms of court evidence showing Anthem officials attempted to push the deal forward unilaterally, as Cigna stopped working with Anthem on issues related to the proposed purchase.

Mr. Cantor said he would not be surprised if a decision is released today, the last day of President Obama's administration. He also said he would not be surprised if Anthem appealed a block, as it faces a $1.85 billion breakup fee if the deal fails.

This story is ongoing and will be updated accordingly.   

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