Swedish: Anthem’s commitment to Cigna deal ‘as strong as ever’

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Anthem Inc. CEO Joe Swedish said in a statement Wednesday that “our commitment to the pending Cigna acquisition remains as strong as ever,” the latest sign that the Indianapolis-based health insurer is going to battle to close the $48 billion acquisition.

Swedish’s statement was part of an Anthem press release reporting second quarter results, which were in line with expectations. Revenue rose 7.2 percent, to $21.5 billion, while adjusted earnings, which exclude certain one-time gains and losses, rose 5 percent, to $893.4 million.

Analysts have speculated that Anthem and Cigna would part ways in the wake of a lawsuit the Department of Justice’s antitrust division filed last week seeking to block the deal on the grounds that it likely would lead to higher prices and reduced benefits.

In a statement hours later, Anthem shot back that “the DOJ’s action is based on a flawed analysis and misunderstanding of the dynamic, competitive and highly regulated healthcare landscape and is inconsistent with the way that the DOJ has reviewed past healthcare transactions.”

The company this week took out full-page ads in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times arguing that merger was “specifically designed to tackle our health care system’s challenges head-on and deliver greater value to consumers.”

Connecticut-based Cigna has seemed less gung-ho about the deal, which the parties struck one year ago. On the day the Department of Justice filed its suit, Cigna said it was “evaluating its options consistent with its obligations under the agreement” and said it doesn’t expect the transaction will close in 2016. “The earliest it could close is 2017, if at all.”

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