(Bloomberg) — Anthem Inc. (NYSE:ANTM) s near an agreement to buy rival Cigna Corp. (NYSE:CI) for about $48 billion, two people with knowledge of the matter said. A deal would create the largest health insurer in the U.S. after almost a year of talks.
Anthem will pay $187 a share for Cigna, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. That compares with its most recent offer of $184 a share. Cigna closed Wednesday at $151.07 in New York, for a market value of about $39 billion. An announcement could come later this week, the people said.
“It was a reasonably good price to begin with,” Ana Gupte, an analyst at Leerink Partners in New York, said Wednesday in a phone interview. “Shareholders were happy with $184 even. And they were telling Anthem and Cigna to resolve their differences and get the deal done.”
An acquisition would add to a wave of consolidation sweeping over the health-insurance industry. Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) said it agreed to buy Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) for $35 billion earlier this month, a day after Centene Corp. (NYSE:CNC) said it struck a deal to acquire Health Net Inc. (NYSE:HNT) for $6.3 billion.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is helping drive the mergers, in part by imposing tougher rules and limits on the industry’s profits.