Aetna won’t be pulling up stakes from Hartford after all now that the health insurance giant is planning to be acquired by CVS Health.
A spokesman for CVS Health confirmed Friday that it will keep Aetna in Hartford and make the city one of the pharmacy giant’s “centers of excellence,” where it locates major operations of its business lines.
“We have no plans to relocate Aetna’s operations from Hartford and, in fact, view Hartford as the future location of our center of excellence for the insurance business,” CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis said in an e-mail.
The insurer last summer announced plans to relocate its headquarters to New York City, in what would have been yet another blow to Connecticut’s economy and its civic pride.
High taxes, perpetual state budget issues, and a need to find more younger workers who desire bigger cities prompted Aetna, along with General Electric and Alexion Pharmaceuticals, to make plans to relocate out of state. Alexion is moving from New Haven to Boston’s Seaport area, not far from where GE opened up in 2016.
But CVS Health’s $69 billion deal to buy Aetna threw the insurer’s relocation plans into jeopardy. Almost immediately after the merger was announced in early December, an Aetna spokesman said the company’s real estate, including the headquarters move, would be evaluated by CVS management during the merger integration planning.
At that point, many in Connecticut believed that Aetna might stay after all.
Crain’s New York Business reported earlier this week that the incentive package used to lure Aetna to New York was falling apart. New York city officials, the business publication reported, withdrew a $9.6 million incentive package that was offered to Aetna because the relocation wasn’t moving forward. New York state government officials had also offered Aetna about $24 million in tax breaks over 10 years.
The Aetna acquisition is scheduled to close in the second half of 2018.Jon Chesto can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.