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Big Cigna backer touts Express Scripts deal

BY Joe Cooper

8/10/2018
PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
An investment group with a major stake in Bloomfield health insurer Cigna and pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts is publicly supporting the proposed $67 billion merger amid continued opposition from activist shareholder Carl Icahn.

Private hedge fund Glenview Capital Management, a 10-year investor that owns and controls about $1.3 billion in Cigna and Express Scripts evenly, Thursday urged shareholder support of the proposed merger, arguing it adds value for them and provides significant savings for members.

Glenview's statements come after Icahn on Thursday released a second letter opposing the proposed deal, asserting it is overvalued and enters the companies into an overly competitive pharmacy market.

Icahn and his affiliates, which own a 0.56 percent stake of the insurer's stock and a short position in Express Scripts, prefer Cigna enter a multi-year partnership with Express Scripts or another PBM.

The investment group shot back Thursday, arguing the combined companies will save customers an estimated $253 annually in medical savings while also improving health outcomes. Cigna, Glenview says, is "paying a cheap price" for Express Scripts in a deal that elevates the insurer's potential for long-term growth.

Following announcement of the deal March 8, Glenview said it raised its investment in Cigna and purchased a large stake in Express Scripts in an effort to create a "new Cigna."

"Sensationalist headlines and intentionally misleading assertions from those with conflicting interests and limited analysis should not carry more weight than balanced diligence," Glenview said in a release. "Contrary to the sensationalist rhetoric of those pushing personal agendas, PBMs combat drug price inflation and encourage better pharmaceutical adherence, improving patient outcomes."

The investment group urged Cigna shareholders to do their own due diligence on the proposed deal before shareholders vote on its passage Friday, Aug. 24, at the Delamar Hotel in West Hartford.

Cigna's board of directors and senior leadership on Thursday sent another letter to shareholders reaffirming their commitment to the proposed acquisition and said Icahn "misstated numerous facts" in his dissent.