Cigna (CI - Get Report) is nearing a deal to buy pharmaceutical benefit manager Express Scripts (ESRX) , according to a report in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday night. The deal could be announced as soon as Thursday, the WSJ said.
An Express Scripts spokeswoman declined to comment. A combination would be more of a traditional healthcare combination as opposed to retailer CVS Health's (CVS - Get Report) nearly $70 billion deal for insurer Aetna last year.
News of the deal comes weeks after Action Alerts Plus holding Amazon set the groundwork for an aggressive push into the healthcare space.
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A - Get Report) , (BRK.B - Get Report) and Action Alerts Plus holding JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM - Get Report) are banding together to beat back healthcare costs that Warren Buffett has likened to "a hungry tapeworm" leeching off the U.S. economy.
The partners are focusing on healthcare tech, and say they will build a non-profit group that will reduce the healthcare costs of their own companies. Given the history and skills of the three partners, the healthcare group could make acquisitions to create a larger group with ambitions across the larger economy.
The group will have dealmaking acumen. JPMorgan's representative is Marvelle Sullivan Berchtold, a managing director who is a former global head of M&A at pharma giant Novartis AG. Sullivan Berchtold's deals at Novartis include the acquisition of purchase of eye-care titan Alcon Inc. in 2010.
Berkshire Hathaway's representative is Todd Combs, an investment officer who has become one of the firm's top stock pickers. Combs sits on the boards of Precision Castparts Corp., which Berkshire Hathaway purchased for $37.2 billion in 2016; Charter Brokerage LLC, acquired in 2014; and Duracell Inc., acquired in 2014.
Representing Amazon is Beth Galetti, a senior vice president for human resources.
The project could take years to build, Leerink Parnters analyst David Larsen suggested in a report. "[W]e do believe that [Amazon]'s efforts in the healthcare space are heating up, we believe a small exploratory team has been created to investigate the supply chain for prescription drugs and this news report is one more indication that [Amazon] is getting more aggressive in the healthcare space," Larsen wrote."
This story is developing.