When UnitedHealth Group completed its acquisition of Change Healthcare, Inc. in early October — a move made shortly after a federal judge dismissed an antitrust complaint against the deal — it seemed as though the companies could finally close the book on their nearly two-year quest to combine. However, last month the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) and officials from two states then filed a notice of appeal, once again casting uncertainty around the $13 billion deal.
“The fact that, after losing their challenge at the district court level, the DOJ and the states waited until after the deal closed to file their appeal is somewhat unusual,” says Jim Burns, chair of the Williams Mullen Antitrust & Trade Regulation Practice Group. Usually, when regulators lose their case at the district court level, they file an immediate appeal and request that the court bar the parties from closing their transaction while that appeal is heard, he tells AIS Health, a division of MMIT.