Shares of Medco Health Solutions Inc. fell the most in almost six months after Reuters reported that “key people” at the Federal Trade Commission are seeking to stop the company’s proposed $29.1 billion acquisition by rival pharmacy benefits company Express Scripts Inc.
Medco, of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, and St. Louis-based Express Scripts said they still expect to complete the transaction in the first half of this year.
Medco declined 8.1 percent to $58.47 at the close in New York, the biggest single-day drop since Aug. 8. Express Scripts lost 4.6 percent to $49.67 in the biggest decline since Oct. 25.
Reuters reported that a “source closely watching the deal” said “key people at the FTC” believe it should be stopped. The unidentified person said an agency decision on whether to challenge the transaction is expected by late February or early March, according to the report.
“We remain confident that the merger will close in the first half of this year,” Brian Henry, an Express Scripts spokesman, said today in an interview after the publication of the Reuters story. The company continues to cooperate with the FTC as it reviews the deal, he said.
Medco also expects to complete the deal in the first half of this year, said Jennifer Luddy, a company spokeswoman.
“Medco does not comment on market rumor and speculation,” Luddy said in an e-mail. “The merger is designed to improve patient health, enhance pharmacy safety, lower costs and address waste and abuse to the benefit of our clients and patients.”
Cecelia Prewett, an FTC spokeswoman, declined to comment on the agency’s review.
Express Scripts agreed in July to buy Medco to create the biggest pharmacy benefits manager in the U.S. Pharmacy benefits managers act as middlemen among drugmakers, pharmacies and health-plan sponsors to negotiate prices and manage the use of drugs by patients.
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