Aetna CEO offers no assurance for Connecticut jobs in comments at shareholders meeting
New comments from Aetna's CEO give no assurances about the company's commitment to Connecticut. What does it mean for Louisville?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A few weeks after Aetna announced a plan last year to buy Louisville-based Humana, I wrote a lengthy Sunday Edition story about a possibility you might call a 50-1 longshot.
Could Louisville lure Aetna -- and its highly educated, highly paid executives – from the company’s headquarters in Hartford, Connecticut?
That still seems like a pretty unlikely coup for Louisville, as Kentucky might seem like a world apart for someone who has made a life in the prosperous Northeast.
But speaking publicly on Friday, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini did little “to allay concerns the company might leave its historic home in Hartford as it prepares to expand significantly to absorb its acquisition of Humana.”
In fact, Bertolini’s lack of assurances about Aetna’s place in Connecticut has officials there on edge, according to the Courant:
Previous comments by Bertolini about a possible shift of Aetna, founded in Hartford in 1853, or the move of significant numbers of jobs out of Connecticut, have rattled Connecticut economic development and business officials.
In another new wrinkle, Bertolini said Aetna’s commitment to maintain “a significant corporate presence” in Louisville was a requirement for Humana to agree to the merger.
“We had to make that commitment in order to get the merger done,” Bertolini said, according to the Courant. "Having said that, the rest of all of our real estate is under review."
While maintaining its home in Connecticut, Aetna has committed to make Louisville the headquarters of its government insurance businesses like Medicare and Medicaid – a division that will account for more than half of the company’s annual revenue.
Aetna wouldn’t be the first big corporate headquarters to pick up and leave Connecticut.
In January, General Electric announced it would abandon its 42-year-old home in Fairfield for a new headquarters in Boston. Last year, GE was among some prominent Connecticut businesses complaining about the state’s corporate tax climate. And Aetna was right alongside GE.
For my story last July, I asked Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer whether the River City has a chance of winning Aetna – or whether the possibility was even on his radar.
“Believe me -- if that’s an opportunity -- we’ll be right in the middle of it,” Fischer said.
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