Anthem Inc. on Thursday said it was extending the termination date for its pending $54 billion merger with Cigna Corp.—a deal that is expected to be blocked by a federal judge, according to a new media report.
Indianapolis-based Anthem said it was extending the deadline by three months, to April 30. The extension would give it extra time to file an appeal if the merger is shot down for antitrust reasons.
The deal would create the nation’s largest health insurer.
The U.S. Justice Department sued the insurers in July, claiming the deal would harm competition in the national insurance market. The trial began late last year and wrapped up Jan. 4.
The New York Post, citing inside sources, on Thursday said Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is expected to block the proposed deal as early as Thursday afternoon over antitrust concerns.
Meanwhile, Cigna on Thursday issued a statement saying it intended to evaluate its options in accordance with its merger agreement with Anthem.
In a regulatory statement, Anthem said it was extending the merger deadline "based on its determination that additional time will be needed to consummate the merger … regardless of the outcome of the District Court's proceeding."
If the deal is blocked, the next legal battle might be between the two insurers over the potential breakup fee. Anthem agreed to pay Cigna as much as $1.85 billion if the deal is blocked on antitrust grounds. But it won’t have to pay if it proves Cigna committed a “willful breach” of the agreement.
Anthem stock rose 1.5 percent Thursday, to $149.54 per share. Cigna shares were up 1.9 percent Thursday, to $144.63 each.