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Anthem, Cigna shareholders approve proposed merger

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Anthem Inc. and Cigna Corp.'s shareholders on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the health insurers' proposed $54 billion merger, announced in July.

About 99% of participating shareholders voted in favor of the merger agreement, Bloomfield, Connecticut-based Cigna and Indianapolis-based Anthem said Thursday in separate statements.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2016, the statements said, though state and federal regulatory antitrust hurdles still must be cleared.

“We are pleased that Anthem shareholders have overwhelmingly voiced their support for our pending acquisition of Cigna, allowing us to move one step closer to making this compelling combination a reality,” Anthem President and CEO Joseph R. Swedish said in a company statement.