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Cigna shareholder Glenview Capital voices support for Express Scripts deal

Glenview Capital Management is backing Cigna Corp.'s pending acquisition of pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Holding Co., saying that the combined entity will save customers "billions of incremental dollars annually" and lead to "better healthcare outcomes."

Glenview, a 10-year shareholder in Cigna, is lending its support at a time when activist investor Carl Icahn is publicly opposing the deal and urging other shareholders to vote against the acquisition. Just hours before Glenview's letter went public, Icahn said the transaction could be one of the "worst blunders" in corporate history. Cigna earlier issued a statement replying to Icahn's opposition, saying that his views "demonstrate an uninformed view of the current healthcare marketplace and Cigna's strategy."

Cigna's long-term growth prospects will be stronger with the deal, according to Glenview, and its per-share financial results will also be about 15% higher both near- and long-term. Additionally, the investor said Cigna is actually paying a low price for Express Scripts compared to its history and precedent pharmacy benefit manager transactions. The price tag was one of Icahn's major sticking points; he said that it substantially overvalued Express Scripts.

Glenview said "sensationalist headlines" and "intentionally misleading assertions" from those with conflicting interests and limited analysis should not carry more weight than balanced diligence.

Cigna shareholders are scheduled to vote on the merger Aug. 24.