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Antitrust Officials Take A Second Look At Aetna-CVS Tie Up

Feb 2, 2018

Federal regulators say they want more information about the proposed merger between health insurer Aetna and pharmacy chain CVS. Antitrust experts at the Department of Justice have issued what’s known as a second request for information about the $69 billion deal. 

The request was issued just as the 30-day review period for federal oversight came to a close.

It isn’t public yet what information the regulators are seeking, and this type of request is not always a signal that they will formally object to the merger.

When the Hartford-based insurer announced it wanted to partner with CVS last year, the two said they didn’t expect significant problems with antitrust laws, principally because their businesses are so different; there won’t be a lot of overlap in what they do, so a combined company would not dominate the market in any one area.

Aetna had a previous mega-merger deal - its proposed combination with fellow health insurer Humana - blocked by the Justice Department on exactly those grounds.

But a suit to stop the deal is only one option for the department. It could also require one or both companies to sell off parts of their business before they merge.

Both CVS and Aetna have scheduled shareholder votes on the merger plan next month.