By Anna Wilde Mathews and Peg Brickley 

Cigna Corp. and Anthem Inc. won't have to pay damages to one another over their failed $48 billion merger deal, a Delaware judge decided Monday, potentially resolving a bitter, yearslong legal battle that had the two insurance giants trading accusations of skulduggery.

In dueling lawsuits, each of the health-insurance giants sought billions of dollars in damages from the other. Both companies argued that its erstwhile partner had sabotaged their proposed combination, which foundered in 2017 after court rulings against the merger on antitrust grounds. Cigna wanted damages of $14.7 billion, along with a breakup fee of about $1.8 billion, from Anthem. Anthem sought damages of $21.1 billion from Cigna.

Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster, of the Delaware Chancery Court, wrote that Anthem had sought to complete the merger and "chose a sound strategy and took all of the actions necessary and appropriate to pursue it." Cigna, he said, had breached its obligation to try to consummate the deal: "Rather than seeking to complete the Merger, Cigna sought to derail it," he wrote.

Calling the drama a "corporate soap opera," Judge Laster attached blame to both sides. Cigna proved that it was likely that the deal would have been blocked regardless of its actions, he wrote. In the end, "each party must bear the losses it suffered as a result of their star-crossed venture."

Shares of Cigna were off 2.2% in trading on the New York Stock Exchange, while shares of Anthem were up 1.6%.

Write to Anna Wilde Mathews at anna.mathews@wsj.com and Peg Brickley at peg.brickley@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 31, 2020 16:33 ET (20:33 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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