FINANCE

Shareholders overwhelmingly approve CVS Health acquisition of Aetna

BY Marianne Wilson

A blockbuster deal that could reshape the nation’s health care industry has moved one step closer to completion.

Shareholders of CVS Health Corp. and Aetna Inc. on Tuesday voted to approve the merger between the two companies. The deal, expected to close in the second half of 2018, is subject to required regulatory approvals.

According to preliminary results, more than 98% of CVS shareholders’ ballots and 97% of Aetna shareholders’ ballots were in favor of the deal.

“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,” stated Larry Merlo, CVS Health president and CEO. “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.”

In December, CVS Health agreed to acquire Aetna Corp. for approximately $69 billion. The deal would create a health care giant composed of the nation’s third-largest health insurer and a nationwide network of 9,700 retail pharmacies, 1,100-plus walk-in medical clinics and a pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 90 million plan members.

Since the deal was announced, there has been a flurry of activity in health care. In January, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announced they were forming an independent company to address health care for the U.S. employees of their respective companies with the aim of lowering costs and improving satisfaction.

Last week, Cigna said it hopes to acquire pharmacy-benefits manager Express Scripts.

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