Aetna to shed its life and disability insurance businesses for $1.45 billion
Aetna is selling its group life and disability insurance and absence management businesses to property-casualty insurer the Hartford for $1.45 billion, the companies announced Monday.
The deal, which is expected to close in early November, will allow Aetna to focus on its core health insurance products, industry analysts say.
Aetna also said about 1,800 of its employees will become employees of the Hartford as part of the sale.
"Our transaction with The Hartford will benefit both our shareholders and customers, allowing us to have a stronger focus on our strategy of creating a personalized approach to improving member health," Aetna President Karen Lynch said in the announcement.
A sale of Aetna's group life and disability businesses has been rumored since the beginning of this year. The life and disability insurance unit is Aetna's only non-health insurance related book of business, since the company parted ways with its property-casualty insurance business in 1995.
Ana Gupte, an insurance analyst with Leerink Partners, said the life and disability insurance unit isn't well-integrated with Aetna's other lines of business and has had operational issues from time to time.
Life and disability insurance is a relatively small piece of Aetna's puzzle, bringing in about $2 billion in premiums in 2016. Aetna recorded $63.2 billion in total revenue in 2016, and healthcare premium revenues totaled $54.1 billion.
During a conference call in August to discuss the company's second-quarter financial results, Lynch noted that the life insurance business "has been volatile and remains volatile."
Gupte said the unit would likely fit better with a larger life insurance provider like the Hartford, which is known for offering property/casualty insurance and employee benefits. The sale will make the Hartford the second-largest group life and disability insurer, the firm said.
It's unclear what Aetna will do with the extra cash from the sale. In a research note, Piper Jaffray analyst Sarah James said the deal could allow Aetna to build out its technology and artificial intelligence platforms.
Gupte speculated that Aetna could be on the verge of acquiring a pharmacy benefit manager after competitor Anthem announced the creation of its PBM IngenioRx last week.
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