HARTFORD, Conn. -- Shareholders of Aetna Inc. and CVS Health Corp. on Tuesday approved the Woonsocket, R.I., pharmacy giant's $69 billion acquisition of the Hartford health insurer.
The deal, announced in December, must still be approved by regulators.
CVS stockholders voted to approve the shares of company stock to be issued in the deal, CVS said.
According to preliminary results, more than 98 percent of CVS shares that voted favored the proposal. If approved by regulators, the deal is expected to close in the second half of the year.
Aetna said about 97 percent of the votes cast and more than 77 percent of the 326.9 million shares entitled to vote agreed to the deal.
Aetna shareholders will receive $145 in cash and 0.8378 of a CVS Health share for each Aetna share, which was valued at $207.94 on Dec. 1, the Friday before the deal was announced.
"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, more affordable care where they are, when they need it," said Larry Merlo, chief executive officer of CVS.
Shares of CVS were down for the day, closing at $68.25, or 1.1 percent lower. Aetna was up a fraction of 1 percent, closing at $177.44.
Leerink Research analyst Ana Gupte said in a client note that winning approval from the U.S. Department of Justice "is likely to be more challenged" following last week's announcement of another large deal, the purchase by Cigna Corp. of Express Scripts Holding Co. for $67 billion.
Gupte said last week that the business model with the Bloomfield-based Cigna as focused on medical underwriting and total cost of care is "appropriately aligned" with the end payers, such as employers and the government.
She said that's in contrast to the CVS-Aetna deal "where the strategic motivations and financial goals are not as clear and the leased real estate based clinic model and leverage may be challenging to come out from under."
The CVS-Aetna deal has the potential to reshape the health care industry, possibly making pharmacies a fuller partner with physicians and their patients.
CVS said it will keep Aetna in Hartford, its home since 1853.
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