US: CVS-Aetna avoid AT&T antitrust hurdle

According to Bloomberg, CVS has dodged one hurdle in its bid to buy insurer Aetna, as US antitrust enforcers don’t see competitive problems that could stem from uniting companies that operate at different levels of a supply chain.

The investigation by the Justice Department’s antitrust division hasn’t turned up vertical- competition concerns from the merger, according to unnamed sources. Instead, the government is focused on competition between the companies in the prescription-drug market, the sources said.

CVS’s US$68 billion deal to buy Aetna was announced on the heels of the Justice Department’s unsuccessful lawsuit to block AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner Inc., a vertical deal that combined a pay-TV distributor with a programmer. That case was a warning shot that enforcers were starting to take a tougher stand on such tie-ups.

The Aetna acquisition would combine the US drugstore giant with the third-biggest health insurer. CVS also manages drug-benefits plans for employers and insurers, a business that could help steer some of Aetna’s 22 million customers into CVS drugstores when they fill a prescription.

Full Content: Bloomberg

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