Cigna Prepares For Court Ruling On Merger

Feb 2, 2017

Cigna said it’s ready with a plan B, in case a federal court blocks its proposed merger with rival insurer Anthem.

The history of Bloomfield-based Cigna’s courtship with Anthem has been long and tortured at times. Even during court testimony in the antitrust case brought against them by the Department of Justice, the partnership seemed to be marked by distrust.

Now, Cigna CEO David Cordani told analysts that he’s ready -- whatever the outcome.

"Obviously, we await the court’s decision," he said on a Thursday earnings conference call. "What we thought was most important was to make sure that our investors understand the breadth of capital available for deployment."

In fact, he said, the company has between $7 billion and $14 billion stockpiled to go hunting for new deals, if the Anthem merger falls apart.

Whether that would be another big tie-up, or if they’d look to absorb smaller companies is still up for discussion.

Meanwhile, Cordani said the insurer is continuing to offer plans on seven state exchanges under the Affordable Care Act in 2017. But he said their future participation is uncertain.

"That marketplace, as we sit here right now, it fragile at best," said Cordani, "so we will fully assess whether we will participate, where and how, as we get through the spring cycle."

The company posted better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings on Thursday. Its profits of $1.87 per share were flat with the same quarter a year ago, but beat analysts’ forecasts, despite a drop in revenue.