The Wall Street Journal
UnitedHealth Group Inc. has approached Aetna Inc. about a takeover deal that would likely be valued at more than $40 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest move in a frenzy of merger talks in the health-insurance industry.
The approach, in the form of a letter, came within the past few days, according to one of the people. It isn’t clear what, if any, the response was, and it is far from certain there will be any deal between the companies. It is also unknown how much UnitedHealth would pay for Aetna in any takeover scenario. Aetna had a market value of about $42 billion as of Monday’s close, so any deal for the company would likely be at least in that neighborhood. UnitedHealth, the biggest managed-care company by revenue, had a market value of more than $110 billion.
The approach comes as Anthem Inc., No. 2 after UnitedHealth, recently approached Cigna Corp. with a roughly $45 billion buyout offer that was rebuffed, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Meanwhile, Aetna and others are considering buying Humana Inc., which is looking at strategic alternatives including a sale after fielding takeover interest, the Journal reported last month.
Changes brought on in part by the Affordable Care Act have prompted major players in the health-insurance industry to consider mergers that could help them cut costs and reap other benefits. Aetna has been viewed by some industry analysts as the most likely acquirer of Humana, and executives at Aetna have spoken publicly about their interest in acquisitions.