Aetna disclosed last week that it has received a $10.5 billion takeover bid from rival WellPoint Health Networks and ING America Insurance Holdings, the U.S. unit of Dutch financial firm ING Group.
Aetna, Hartford, Conn., said it received the letter of interest on Feb. 24, the day before it ousted its former chairman, president and chief executive officer, Richard Huber, amid high medical costs, lagging profits and increasing litigation (Feb. 28, p. 4).
In a written statement, the troubled health insurer's board said it would review the cash and stock offer "in due course."
Under the proposal, Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based WellPoint would take control of Aetna U.S. Healthcare, the nation's largest health insurer with 21 million covered lives. ING would buy Aetna's financial services and international businesses.
Aetna U.S. Healthcare is nearly three times larger than WellPoint, which has 7.3 million members.
Despite the offer, Aetna's new chief, William Donaldson, last week recruited turnaround specialist Robert Miller as an adviser. Aetna is conducting a comprehensive review of its operations.