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Carl Icahn opposes planned merger of Cigna and Express Scripts

Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has taken a sizable stake in health insurer Cigna (CI) and plans to vote against the proposed merger of Cigna with Express Scripts (ESRX), thereby threatening to scupper the entire deal.

The latest reports from Wall Street Journal claims that Icahn, who holds close to 5% stake in Cigna, also plans to persuade other holders to vote against the deal, alleging that the deal is overvalued. Shareholders of both the companies are scheduled to vote on the proposed $67 billion deal simultaneously on August 24.

While both the companies have insisted that the merger would benefit customers, many critics argue that the deal could lead to a rise in drug prices.

They also claim that it will be challenging for the combined company to withstand competition from Amazon (AMZN), which has forayed into the healthcare segment by acquiring online pharmacy PillPack.

RELATED: Cigna-Express Scripts deal points to new pharma-insurer tie-up fad

Earlier the news of Amazon entering into the competitive healthcare space had sent insurers, drug store chains and retailers into frenzy.

CVS Health’s (CVS) acquisition of Aetna (AET) had marked a new wave of vertical mergers in the healthcare space. In March, pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts agreed to be acquired by Cigna in a deal that currently is being reviewed by Department of Justice. In April, the DOJ had asked for additional details on the deal.

RELATED: The ripple effect of Amazon popping up PillPack

Cigna witnessed a surge in its share price after the news broke out, whereas shares of Express Script traded in the negative territory on Wednesday.

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