Connecticut ‘politely sweating out’ Anthem, Cigna merger drama | Crain's Connecticut

Connecticut ‘politely sweating out’ Anthem, Cigna merger drama

  • Cigna President and CEO David Cordani speaks at the ceremony marking the relocation of his company's headquarters to Connecticut. Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman are behind Cordani. | Photo courtesy of the Connecticut Governor's Office

    Cigna President and CEO David Cordani speaks at the ceremony marking the relocation of his company's headquarters to Connecticut. Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman are behind Cordani. | Photo courtesy of the Connecticut Governor's Office

  • Hartford-based Aetna, which is the No. 2 health insurer of Connecticut residents, unsuccessfully tried to acquire Humana Inc. in a $37 billion merger attempt. | Photo by Walter Williams/Crain's Connecticut

    Aetna HQ, Hartford.Hartford-based Aetna, which is the No. 2 health insurer of Connecticut residents, unsuccessfully tried to acquire Humana Inc. in a $37 billion merger attempt. | Photo by Walter Williams/Crain's Connecticut

  • The proposed merger of Anthem and Cigna awaits a court ruling. | Photo by Derek Lee/Crain's

    The proposed merger of Anthem and Cigna awaits a court ruling. | Photo by Derek Lee/Crain's

Connecticut residents, business leaders and political officials are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the court case involving Anthem and Cigna, as the forthcoming ruling could impact thousands of workers and their families.

Neither Bloomfield, Connecticut-based Cigna nor Indianapolis-based Anthem, which has a satellite office complex in Wallingford, has said what will become of their Connecticut employees and offices if their $54 billion merger is completed. Spokespeople from both companies have recently declined comment on those plans.

The state’s largest business group is also in the dark.

“I wish I knew more,” said Joe Brennan, president and CEO of the Hartford-based Connecticut Business and Industry Association. “I’m sure that I’m not alone in hoping for a positive outcome for Connecticut.”

The merger is in the hands of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson after the U.S. Department of Justice last year filed suit to block the combination over competition concerns.

Following the Justice Department action, the Connecticut Department of Insurance in July suspended its review of the merger and will not revisit the matter until the court case is concluded, said Donna Tommelleo, spokeswoman for the state insurance department.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen is also awaiting the court decision, spokeswoman Jaclyn Falkowski said. Jepsen and 11 other state attorneys general joined the federal lawsuit that seeks to block the merger on antitrust grounds. Jepsen stands by that position, Falkowski said. In a press release last summer, he called both Anthem and Cigna “active and important members of our community in Connecticut.”

Anthem is the No. 1 health insurer of Connecticut residents and Cigna is No. 3.

Hartford-based Aetna, which is the No. 2 health insurer of Connecticut residents, unsuccessfully tried to acquire Humana in a $37 billion merger attempt.

To the delight of Bloomfield and state officials, Cigna returned its headquarters to Connecticut in 2011 as part of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s First Five Plus program. Cigna was the first company to participate in the initiative, which promised the insurer $50 million in state economic incentives as long as it created 200 jobs within the first two years.

With 535 net new jobs created in Connecticut, Cigna’s relocation from Philadelphia has been a triumph for First Five Plus. Only NBC Sports’ 618 net new jobs was higher among the 13 companies enrolled in First Five Plus, according to a Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development review released in August.

Cigna’s Bloomfield campus is humming with the activity of 4,400 workers. Cigna was Bloomfield’s largest payer of real estate taxes in the most recent tax year with its Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. unit listed as having paid $1.3 million, Bloomfield tax collector Jean Kitchens said.

Bloomfield Mayor Joan Gamble said she hopes these trends continue.

“We want them and we’ve told them that we value them,” she said of Cigna. “We expect them to be our neighbor for decades.”

Cigna, which also has a data center in Windsor, appears committed to Connecticut.

“Over the past few years we have invested significantly in our Bloomfield campus, including the Wilde Building and the surrounding property,” said Mark Slitt, who is spokesman for Cigna’s Connecticut operations. “Many of these improvements are ongoing.”

Aetna, meanwhile, has been rumored to be looking at real estate in Boston, although a spokesman recently told the Hartford Courant that the company is “committed” to its 6,000 Connecticut employees.

When asked if Cigna might be looking for additional office space in Connecticut, Slitt replied, “We have a beautiful campus in Bloomfield.”

If the Cigna-Anthem merger is consummated, the Indiana-based insurer would be the dominant party in the combination. Anthem, the nation’s largest health insurer, has been in Connecticut for 80 years. Harry B. Kennedy established the Hospital Service Fund in 1936 in New Haven and that was Anthem’s original company name, spokeswoman Sarah Yeager said.

Anthem moved its offices to North Haven in 1972. In 2012, Anthem moved to its current Wallingford location where 1,300 employees now work. Total employment at Anthem is 50,000 across 29 states, Yeager said.

Anthem does not pay real estate taxes to the Town of Wallingford because it does not own its current offices, said Cheryl Brundage, Wallingford’s assistant tax collector.

It’s unknown how the office landscape will change if Anthem is able to acquire Cigna and its Bloomfield campus.

“Never take anything for granted,” Bloomfield Mayor Gamble said. “I am politely sweating out this whole merger business.”

February 4, 2017 - 11:27pm