Waiting For News On Sierra Health Services- Unitedhealth Group Merger

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Includes: SIE, UNH
by: The M & A Researcher

Unfortunately, there have been virtually no developments in the Sierra Health Services Inc. (SIE) - Unitedhealth Group, Inc. (NYSE:UNH) deal over the course of the last few weeks. This is perhaps not terribly surprising given that the last major event involved Nevada Governor Gibbons publicly "expressing concerns" to the DOJ -- an event that isn't really all that compelling in the grand scheme of things for this deal.

It is often difficult to interpret the period the latter stages of a DOJ review in situations like this where information has been relatively free-flowing, for the most part. We will continue to rely heavily on the Pacificare-UnitedHealth precedent, the related perception of UNH's acumen in dealing with state and federal regulators, and the fact that there are no legitimate antitrust issues that can not be resolved fairly easily in this case.

It continues to be believed that the DOJ is nearing the end of its review and is essentially going over the Nevada DOI's information, as well as factoring in any new claims/concerns which are presumably being provided by the American Medical Association and/or Governor Gibbons. The critical aspects of this deal have not changed at all since the deal was announced in March: the acquisition of SIE simply will not significantly alter the healthcare landscape in Nevada other than in a few localities.

Again, the primary concern is believed to be Clark County, where both companies currently have a presence, and competition is very limited. It is almost inconceivable to foresee a situation where the DOJ would flat-out deny this merger based on a single geographic area where certain conditions could quite easily protect the market well into the future. Thus, it must be assumed that the regulator and companies are focusing this particular issue and will very soon resolve any problems the DOJ may currently have.

It was originally predicted upon deal announcement that the companies would be able to obtain all necessary approvals before the end of this month. This continues to be the expectation despite the lack of information over the last few weeks.

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