Shareholders on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved CVS’s proposed $69 billion deal to acquire health insurer Aetna.
The agreement was approved by about 97 percent of Aetna’s shareholders and 98 percent of CVS shareholders.
The merger is expected to close in the second half of this year, pending regulatory approval by the Department of Justice. If approved, the merger of the nation’s largest pharmacy and third-largest health insurer could have major implications for the industry.
CVS and Aetna said their “vertical” merger will reduce costs for patients.
“When this merger is complete, the combined company will be well-positioned to reshape the consumer health care experience, putting people at the center of health care delivery to ensure they have access to high-quality, affordable care where they are, when they need it,” CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement.
It’s not clear if federal regulators will approve the deal, but there have been favorable signs.
Even if the merger is approved, it could take time for consumers to see benefits.
The deal is thought to have increased pressure on others in the industry to consider mergers to keep up with potential health-care cost savings.
Last week, health insurer Cigna announced it was acquiring pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts in a $67 billion cash and stock deal.
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announced in January that they’re working together to create a new health-care venture for their own staff aimed at “improving employee satisfaction and reducing costs.”