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Anthem/Cigna merger appeal set for March 24

Cigna defers to Anthem in arguing the appeals court should allow the $54 billion merger.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

The United States Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear the Anthem/Cigna merger case on Friday, March 24, with Cigna now onboard with the takeover.

"... Cigna defers to Anthem and to the conclusion in Anthem's brief that this court should reverse the district court's February 8, 2017 order in its entirety, vacate the injunction and rule for Anthem and Cigna permitting the proposed merger … to proceed," said Cigna Attorney Charles Rule in the March 2 court document.

The antitrust case went to court after the Department of Justice blocked the merger last July.

[Also: American Medical Association tells DOJ not to settle Anthem-Cigna merger]

On February 8, the district court ruled against the $54 billion proposed merger. Anthem immediately filed an appeal and asked for a speedy scheduling.

[Also: UPDATED: Anthem wins lawsuit seeking restraining order against Cigna]

By their July 2015 merger contract, Anthem and Cigna have until the end of April to merge, or Anthem owes Cigna a $1.8 billion breakup fee.

Anthem said in court and by statement that it believed a new administration under President Trump would be more favorable to the deal.

Cigna threw a wrench into deal when, after the district court ruling, said it wanted out and $13 billion in damages, plus the $1.8 billion, from Anthem.

[Also: Cigna sues Anthem, wants $14 billion to break up merger deal]

Anthem counter-sued, winning a temporary restraining order preventing Cigna from terminating the deal.

Anthem is responsible for developing and leading the antitrust strategy, Cigna said in court documents.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse