DOJ approval of CVS $69 billion merger with Aetna expected soon

Shares of CVS Health and Aetna edged higher Wednesday as the companies come closer to winning regulatory approval for their $69 billion merger.

The Justice Department is expected to approve the deal as early as Wednesday, according to people briefed on the matter. Shares of Aetna were up 1 percent in morning trading, while CVS rose nearly 1 percent.

The announcement is imminent, these people said.

The companies cleared their path to approval when Aetna announced Sept. 27 that it reached an agreement to sell its Medicare Part D drug plan business to WellCare Health Plans for an undisclosed amount. Regulators were reportedly concerned about the overlap between CVS’ and Aetna’s Medicare Part D plans. WellCare shares rose fractionally in morning trading.

CVS, the nation’s largest drugstore chain, announced in December that it would buy Aetna for about $69 billion in cash and stock. The deal combines CVS’ pharmacies with Aetna’s insurance business, blurring traditionally distinct lines in hopes of lowering costs. CVS also has one of largest pharmacy benefits managers through CVS Caremark and a major Medicare Part D plan sponsor through its SilverScript unit.

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