January 12, 2018

Malloy: CVS to keep Aetna's HQs in Hartford

Flickr Creative Commons | Chez Julius Livre 1
Flickr Creative Commons | Chez Julius Livre 1
Aetna headquarters in Hartford.

CVS Health, which announced in December it was acquiring Aetna for $69 billion, said Friday that it will keep the health insurer's headquarters in Hartford.

The announcement comes just days after it was reported that New York city officials pulled the plug on a $9.6 million incentive package to Aetna, which had pledged to move its headquarters from Hartford to Manhattan.

That move is now off, according to CVS Health spokesman David Palombi.

"It is important to understand that while CVS Health will continue to be headquartered in Rhode Island, we also operate a number of large corporate hubs, or centers of excellence, in other states, including Arizona, Illinois and Texas," said Palombi. "We have no plans to relocate Aetna's operations from Hartford... ."

Malloy said he met with CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo Thursday to discuss the company's future. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin also met with Merlo.

"I'm thrilled that CVS has confirmed that Aetna will continue to call Hartford home, building upon a strong legacy of success dating back to 1853," Malloy said. "CVS Health has an incredible track record of corporate stewardship, and we welcome their leadership, and commitment to naming Hartford a center of excellence for the insurance business. Today's announcement confirms that Connecticut is a tremendous place to do business, with a talent pipeline and quality of life that are second-to-none. My administration will continue to work with CVS Health's leadership team to ensure that their footprint in Hartford is maintained not only for the short-term, but in the long-run as well."

Crain's reported earlier this week that New York Mayor Bill De Blasio's administration nixed its incentive deal because Aetna decided not to move forward with the relocation to Manhattan.

In a written statement to HBJ Jan. 10, an Aetna spokesman had declined to comment on the published report other than to say all of the company's locations will be evaluated as part of the integration planning process with CVS.

According to Crain's, Aetna was offered a $35 million incentive package from New York City and state officials in exchange for moving its headquarters to New York City and occupying 145,000 square feet at 61 Ninth Ave.

Aetna had said it planned to move over 200 senior executives to New York City in order to tap into a larger tech talent pool.

Those plans were complicated once Aetna agreed to be acquired by CVS in early December.

The Malloy administration is not offering CVS any incentives to keep Aetna's headquarters in Hartford, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Bronin also welcomed the news Aetna would be staying in the Capital City and gauged talks with Merlo as "productive."

"I shared my view of the Hartford region, its tremendous talent pool, depth of experience in insurance, and that this the perfect place for them to keep and grow the center of their insurance operations," he said.

David Cadden, a business professor at Quinnipiac University, said the announcement gives Connecticut an opportunity to change its image as a business unfriendly environment.

"New York City's decision to rescind its package to attract Aetna to Manhattan allows Connecticut to welcome back the headquarters of a firm that has been here for over 160 years," Cadden said. "One can only hope that the governor, the mayor of Hartford and the state legislature will put together a package that will secure the presence of the headquarters for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the repositioning of a corporate headquarters is a zero-sum game where one location's gain is another location's loss. Let's hope that Connecticut can capitalize and begin to attract and retain businesses in the state."

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