Aetna jumped 12% to $178.60, closing at a record high, while CVS fell 2.9% to $73.31. Spokesmen for Aetna and CVS declined to comment.
A deal would create a health-services giant and a bigger competitor for UnitedHealth Group Inc., which is the largest U.S. health insurer and has its own own clinics and a pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) unit. CVS runs drugstores and clinics, helps insurers manage their pharmacy benefits, and already sells a pharmacy-insurance plan for older people, known as Medicare Part D. The company has a market value of about $75 billion, while Aetna was valued at about $53 billion before surging on the Journal’s report.
Aetna Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini has talked in the past about deepening the insurer’s relationship with CVS, and relying on the company to deliver some types of care to the insurer’s customers or provide them with medical equipment.
CVS has been an aggressive deal maker in its history, though buying Aetna would easily be the biggest deal CVS has ever done. In 2007, it bought drug benefit manager Caremark Rx Inc. in a deal valued at the time at $27.2 billion, to become a powerhouse in the benefit management business. And in 2015, it acquired the nursing home pharmacy operator Omnicare Inc. for $12.9 billion.