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US health insurance sector catches merger mania

They are scrambling to tap the millions of new potential customers that Affordable Care Act has unleashed

New York

THE world of American health insurance may soon become even smaller, with the biggest companies seeking to become even bigger.

A scramble has broken out within the industry as various providers jockey for position and make overtures to rivals. Anthem Inc made the first public move, unveiling a US$47 billion takeover bid for Cigna on Saturday after months of negotiations had stalled. On Sunday, Cigna fired back, rejecting the bid as "inadequate and not in the best interest of Cigna's shareholders".

But others have been quietly manoeuvring as well. UnitedHealth Group, the biggest American health insurer by revenue, recently made a preliminary approach to Aetna, a person briefed on the matter...

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