Cigna logo on building While he acknowledged he faced an uphill battle to block the deal, Icahn argued that Cigna investors should vote against it, based in part on the threat posed by Inc. to Express Scripts’s future. (Photo: AP)

Activist investor Carl Icahn has dropped his fight to block Cigna Corp.’s $54 billion acquisition of Express Scripts Holding Co. after two prominent shareholder advisory firms came out in support of the deal.

Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and Glass Lewis & Co. last week urged Cigna’s investors to support the takeover, saying it made sense from a financial and strategic perspective. Icahn had opposed the deal, saying it would be a “travesty” if it were to proceed. He sought to block the deal in a proxy fight ahead of a shareholder vote set for Aug. 24.

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