Aetna, Humana call off $34 billion merger

INDIANAPOLIS - Aetna (AET) and Humana (HUM) are calling off a $34 billion deal to combine the two major health insurers after a federal judge, citing antitrust concerns, shot down the deal.

Humana is entitled to a $1 billion breakup fee after the mutual decision to call off the tie-up, first announced in the summer of 2015.

“While we continue to believe that a combined company would create greater value for health care consumers through improved affordability and quality, the current environment makes it too challenging to continue pursuing the transaction,” Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said in a statement. 

U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled in January that combining insurance giant Aetna and health care provider Humana would hurt competition, echoing the concern of federal antitrust enforcers.

It was the second major deal shot down in federal courts in as many months.

Another federal judge earlier this month rejected Blue Cross-Blue Shield carrier Anthem’s bid to buy Cigna. Anthem is appealing that decision.