New York::

Health service provider Cigna said Thursday it had reached an agreement to acquire pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts in a cash and stock deal worth approximately $67 billion (54 billion euros).


The firms said the deal would create a wider portfolio of health services with greater choice, as well as helping make them more affordable.


"Together, our two organizations will help make the healthiest choices the easiest choices, putting health and pharmacy services within reach of everyone we serve," Express Scripts chief executive Tim Wentworth said in a statement.


The transaction, which has been approved by the board of directors of both companies, offers Express Scripts shareholders $48.75 in cash and 0.24 shares of stock of the combined company for each of their shares.


The statement said the price represents an approximately 31 percent premium to Express Scripts? closing price of $73.42 on March 7, 2018.


The deal also includes Cigna's assumption of approximately $15 billion in Express Scripts debt.


Cigna shareholders will own approximately 64 percent of the combined company and Express Scripts shareholders the remainder.