Aetna acquisition clears CVS Health stockholder hurdle

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Aetna acquisition clears CVS Health stockholder hurdle

By David Salazar - 03/13/2018
CVS Health officially has its stockholder’s blessing for its Aetna acquisition. The Woonsocket, R.I.-based company had a special meeting Tuesday morning to secure stockholder approval for the $69 billion acquisition of the health insurer, at which more than 98% of shares voted to approve the deal. The company said it expects the deal to close in the second half of 2018, pending regulatory approval.

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

The company said it is aiming to fill unmet healthcare need with the Aetna acquisition, touting its potential to bring patients more access to care in-store, in-home or through the use of connected health tools.

“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 healthcare model that is easier to use and less expensive for consumers,” Merlo said. “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.”

As Aetna chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini put it in December when the acquisition was announced, the combination of the companies is designed to make CVS Pharmacy locations a “front door to the healthcare system” while using digital tools to ensure value for payers and patients.

Since the acquisition was announced — with speculation that the move also functions as a long-term play to out-maneuver Amazon as it looks to enter the healthcare space — other healthcare and retail players have followed suit. In a deal that will feature a similar marriage of pharmacy benefits management and health insurance capabilities, Cigna last week announced that it would be acquiring PBM ExpressScripts for $67 billion. And in the retail space, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons is undertaking a $24 billion acquisition of Rite Aid, which is positioned make the combined company into the fourth-largest chain in terms of pharmacy sales. All this is taking place as Rite Aid continues to transfer stores to Walgreens Boots Alliance as part of its sale of 1,932 stores to the Deerfield, Ill.-based company that reportedly has been in acquisition talks with its longtime distribution partner AmerisourceBergen.

And retail pharmacy isn’t the only sector seeing consolidation to stay ahead of the curve, with specialty pharmacy Diplomat acquiring two PBMs in as many weeks last year to position it as a broader-based healthcare company.

Amid all of the industry shakeups, Merlo said the Aetna acquisition will position CVS Health well in relation to its competitors.

“At the same time, our company will benefit from a stronger market position, with the potential to deliver increased value through the development of innovative new products and services and generate long-term growth opportunities that help produce stronger, more consistent results for shareholders as a uniquely integrated healthcare company,” he said.

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