(Bloomberg) — Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET), the second-largest U.S. health insurer by market value, is closing in on an acquisition of Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) and could reach a deal as early as this weekend, several people with knowledge of the matter said.
Humana shares rose 8 percent to $198.99 at 1:47 p.m. in New York, the biggest intraday gain since May 29. Aetna shares rose 2.8 percent to $131.07.
Discussions between the two companies have intensified during recent days, after it emerged over the weekend that rivals Anthem Inc. (NYSE:ANTM) and Cigna Corp. (NYSE:CI) had held merger talks of their own, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.
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Aetna made a formal bid this week in the form of cash and stock, the people said. While the exact offer details weren’t available, any proposal would probably value Humana above its $28 billion market capitalization as of Wednesday’s close.
Humana has received two offers, one from Aetna and another from Cigna, said another person. The Humana board prefers the offer from Aetna, the person said.
A representative for Humana didn’t respond to requests for comment. Representatives for Aetna and Cigna declined to comment.
Should Humana agree to sell itself to Cigna, it would run the risk of Cigna’s shareholders voting down a deal to try and persuade the company to sell itself to Anthem, which last weekend said it had offered to pay $184 a share for Cigna.
No agreement yet