CVS Health Corp. and Aetna Inc. were both talking to other potential partners during early discussions that led to their $68 billion merger, according to a regulatory filing.
As late as August, Aetna was in discussions with a “Party X” about a “strategic partnership, business combination or other opportunities.” The mystery company, which isn’t named in the document, told Aetna in October 2017 that it wasn’t planning to make a takeover offer.
CVS was looking at other partners as well. Early last year, the drugstore and pharmacy-benefit company “continued to have discussions with multiple managed-care companies.”
While Aetna and CVS declined to comment on the mystery companies, the talks suggest there could be more consolidation in the health-care industry after the CVS-Aetna deal, which was announced in
December 2017. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Chief Executive Officer Stefano Pessina has often spoken of the benefits of closer ties among health-care players.
Walgreens didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether it was “Party X,” or if it was a “Party Y” that Aetna was talking to about a partnership or joint venture involving retail clinics or Medicare products. Analysts have speculated that Humana Inc. could become a target.
The merger document also adds a note of intrigue about Aetna’s failed deal with Humana, which fell apart about a year ago after US antitrust authorities sued to block it. The document shows Aetna began weighing new ventures in September 2016 — before the Humana deal was officially scuttled. The company was publicly telling investors at the time that it was confident it could complete the Humana takeover.