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Medco shareholders approve Express Scripts merger


(Reuters)—Shareholders of Medco Health Solutions Inc. on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved its $29 billion acquisition by rival pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Inc., although the massive deal still faces an uncertain regulatory review.

With 72% of the shares voted, 99% supported the deal based on a preliminary count, Medco said. The company held a special shareholder meeting on Wednesday on the deal that would unite two of the three largest U.S. pharmacy benefit managers.

A separate meeting of Express Scripts shareholders on the deal also will be held on Wednesday.

Medco said the deal is expected to close in the first half of 2012. But it remains to be seen whether the U.S. Federal Trade Commission will sign off on the deal, which has encountered opposition from community pharmacists and scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers.

Medco shares trade at a roughly 17% discount to the offer price, reflecting caution about the deal's ultimate approval, but that spread has narrowed in recent months.

Medco shares were up 4 cents at $55.60 in Wednesday morning trading, while Express Scripts shares were off 10 cents at $44.44.

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