Aetna, CVS shareholders approve $69B deal

BY Greg Bordonaro

Aetna's Hartford headquarters.
Hartford health insurer Aetna and CVS Health said Tuesday that shareholders have approved their proposed $69 billion combination.

Both companies said they held special shareholder votes Tuesday, which led to overwhelming support for the deal. CVS is acquiring Aetna, but has promised to maintain the health insurer's Hartford presence.

If the deal is completed, Aetna shareholders will receive $145 in cash and 0.8378 of a CVS Health share for each Aetna share, which was valued at $207.94 on Dec. 1, 2017, when the deal was announced.

Before that happens, however, Aetna and CVS still need key regulatory approvals, including the blessing of the federal government. The companies said they hope to complete their deal in the second half of 2018.

CVS Health's proposed acquisition of Aetna will likely mean big changes for the pharmacy giant's vast network of nearly 10,000 brick-and-mortar stores.

While neither company has said exactly how different a CVS store is going to look in five years (assuming regulators sign off on the deal), there have been hints of what's to come, including new health services and partnerships focused on disease management and value-based care.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has told analysts and shareholders that the vision is for consumers to think of a CVS for healthcare services the way that they think of Apple's popular retail stores for technology.

"Think of a Genius Bar at Apple and this ability at the store to walk in and get help," Bertolini said. "I think this is the kind of idea we want to create in the stores."

Combining Aetna's plan-design experience and book of 22 million customers with CVS Health's portfolio of stores and pharmacy offerings, while leveraging each company's deep data troves, will help drive down the cost of health benefits for consumers and payors alike, Bertolini and CVS CEO Larry Merlo have said.

The companies are pitching the deal as a way to create a "front door to health care" for consumers, filling gaps in the current healthcare system and creating a better experience for customers.

CVS plans to offer more healthcare services in its stores, building on its "minute clinic" business, which generally offer vaccines and treatment for more minor illnesses. There are about 1,100 minute clinics across the country, including two dozen in Connecticut.