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Report: US DOJ close to approving CVS-Aetna, Cigna-Express Scripts deals

The U.S. Department of Justice is close to approving CVS Health Corp.'s planned purchase of Aetna Inc. and Cigna Corp.'s planned acquisition of Express Scripts Holding Co., The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 5, citing people familiar with the matter.

The deals could reportedly get approval in the next few weeks.

The DOJ will require CVS and Aetna to sell off assets related to Medicare drug coverage to alleviate competition concerns concerning the $69 billion merger, the Journal reported, citing sources familiar with that deal.

Final talks between CVS, Aetna and the Justice Department regarding the asset sales are still ongoing, but one potential buyer in talks for the assets is WellCare Health Plans, according to the report.

Cigna's $67 billion planned purchase of Express Scripts could be approved without any asset sales, the Journal reported.

A spokesperson for Express Scripts told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the company continues to work constructively with the Justice Department and remains confident that the deal will close by the end of the year. Separately, Cigna said in an email statement that is also working "cooperatively with the DOJ and the states to discuss the many benefits of the Express Scripts transaction and remains confident that the merger will close by year-end 2018."

An Aetna spokesperson declined to comment, and CVS did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment.

CVS shares were up 1.58% to $75.17 in late-day trading Sept.5, while shares of Aetna rose 1.64% to $202.56. Cigna shares dropped 0.56% to $185.03, while Express Scripts' shares rose 3.65% to $90.12.