Anthem has requested more time from a Delaware court to salvage its $54 billion merger with Cigna, asking for a 60-day extension of a temporary injunction to block its would-be partner from opting out of the deal.
The disputes between the two insurers predates the February ruling by a federal judge that the merger would unlawfully limit competition in the insurance market. Soon after the decision, Cigna sued Anthem to terminate the deal, seeking $15 billion in damages, including a $1.85 billion break-up fee. Anthem countersued, alleging Cigna sought to “sabotage” the merger, and has continued pursuing the deal in court, losing in federal appeals court and asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
The delay Anthem is seeking in Delaware would allow time for the high court to decide whether to take up the case or work out a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop its objections to the merger, according to Anthem attorney Glenn Kurtz.
Delaware Chancery Court Judge Travis Laster countered that winning approval for the merger would be a “long shot,” according to Bloomberg, and Cigna attorney William Savitt called it a “near impossibility.”
There has been speculation the new administration at the DOJ would be friendlier to this and other healthcare mergers. President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the department’s antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, lobbied on Anthem’s behalf in favor of the Cigna deal.
Laster said he’d rule as soon as possible on the injunction, Reuters reported.