CVS, Aetna shareholders approve $69B acquisition

Shareholders for both CVS Health and Aetna overwhelmingly approved the proposed $69 billion deal for CVS to acquire the health insurer, bringing the merger one step closer to completion.

According to separate press releases, more than 98 percent of CVS shareholders’ ballots and 97 percent of Aetna shareholders’ ballots were in favor of the proposal, which will award each Aetna shareholder nearly $208 in value per share in a combination of cash and CVS stock.

"The combination of CVS Health and Aetna brings together two complementary businesses with an expanded set of unique capabilities to create a new community-based open health care model that is easier to use and less expensive for consumers,” said CVS Health president and CEO Larry Merlo. “We look forward to delivering more seamlessly coordinated care that ensures consumers have the essential resources to lead healthier lives for themselves and their families.”

The announcement of the deal in December 2017 has sparked a flurry of cross-sectional mergers and acquisitions involving healthcare companies. These have included grocer Albertsons looking to acquire drugstore chain Rite Aid, Cigna’s proposal to buy pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts and the mysterious partnership between Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan—which Merlo has said aspires to do what the CVS-Aetna deal will actually accomplish.

The thumbs-up from shareholders leaves the U.S. Department of Justice as the next hurdle to finalizing the deal. The DOJ had requested more information on the acquisition in February, but the companies said this was expected and won’t affect their timeline for completing the deal, which they predict will happen sometime in the second half of 2018.

“When this merger is complete, the combined company will be well-positioned to reshape the consumer health care experience, putting people at the center of health care delivery to ensure they have access to high-quality, more affordable care where they are, when they need it,” Merlo said.