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Anthem CEO says extension of Cigna deal deadline was a 'unilateral' decision


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Anthem CEO says extension of Cigna deal deadline was a 'unilateral' decision

Anthem Inc. Chairman, President and CEO Joseph Swedish described the insurer's extension of the deadline to complete its merger with Cigna Corp. as "a unilateral determination" after Cigna said that it will evaluate its options once a judge rules on the deal.

"Regarding the Cigna deal and the extension, that is a unilateral determination on our part and, obviously, we've already expressed our exercise of that we are moving forward," Swedish said during an earnings call.

Electing to extend the termination date in a Jan. 18 notice to Cigna, Anthem said that it needed more time to close the deal. Anthem extended the deadline to April 30 from Jan. 31. Cigna, however, has not yet expressed its commitment to the revised deadline, saying in a Feb. 1 regulatory filing that it "is reserving all of its rights."

"Cigna has made no determination with respect to Anthem's notice seeking to extend the termination date, including whether Cigna will seek to terminate the Merger Agreement," Cigna said in the filing.

The two companies are still waiting for the U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson's decision on their proposed merger in an antitrust case filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Jackson was originally expected to rule by the end of January.

Anthem's Swedish is hopeful that a decision will be announced soon, but he said he sees no reason to fret about "the length of time because it is a very complicated case." He also maintained that the delay has nothing to do with Anthem's ongoing legal battle with Express Scripts Holding Co. Inc. over allegations that the pharmacy benefits manager is overcharging the insurer.

Another large health insurance merger has recently hit rough waters. U.S. District Judge John Bates of the District of Columbia blocked a proposed merger of Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. on the grounds that it would diminish competition in the Medicare Advantage market.