(Bloomberg) — Aetna Inc.’s private equity team has formed a new investment company that will seek to manage money for outside investors as well as the executives’ former employer.

Nebrodi Partners will continue to manage Aetna’s private equity holdings, currently valued at about $600 million, Robert Davis, one of four principals at the firm, said in an interview. It will also serve as an adviser for institutions that want to outsource their private equity investing rather than set up an internal team.

Aetna, the third-largest U.S. health insurer, has been investing in private equity since 1992, said Davis. The group, which includes principals David Clarke, Allan Vartelas and Erik Cafarella, acquires stakes in buyout funds and also co-invests alongside them in private companies.

“We think the co-investing side is very important,” Davis said yesterday. “You gain very valuable insight into the general partners because you are working with them side by side,” said Davis, referring to the managers of the buyout funds.

Davis and the three other principals own Nebrodi, named after a mountain range in northeast Sicily. Aetna, based in Hartford, Connecticut, is named after Mount Etna, the highest mountain within the Nebrodi range.

Nebrodi’s principals are generalists, though they primarily work with funds that invest in mid-sized companies, defined as those having annual cash flow from $10 million to $100 million.

Private equity comprises about 2 percent of the assets in Aetna’s general account, a pool of investments that support the company’s primary businesses, including medical, dental, group life and disability insurance. Aetna’s general account has about $26 billion in assets, according to Cynthia Michener, a company spokeswoman.

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