The saga of Cigna’s planned acquisition of St. Louis-based Express Scripts continues after billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn announced late Monday that he would end his campaign to thwart the merger.
The announcement sent Express Scripts shares up, climbing nearly 2 percent to $85.50 before markets opened Tuesday.
It also comes after a second advisory firm, Glass Lewis & Co., declared its backing for the $54 billion deal this week. Hedge fund Glenview Capital Management, which has stake in Cigna, has also backed the deal.
Icahn owns 0.56 percent of Cigna. Last week, he publicly announced opposition to the merger, citing regulatory hurdles and formidable competition with Amazon, which entered the drug distribution market back in June with the purchase of PillPack.
Officials for Express Scripts and Cigna remain confident the deal will eventually go through. Cigna said in a statement Tuesday that it was fully committed to closing the deal by the end of 2018.
“We continue to be confident in the deal, and we are pleased that others share our optimism about what our companies can do to advance health care,” Brian Henry, an Express Scripts spokesman, said Monday in an email to Bloomberg.
Shareholders of Cigna and Express Scripts will vote on the merger Aug. 24.