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Humana, Aetna Chiefs Optimistic About Future In Louisville

The chief executive of Aetna is optimistic about the future of the company and Louisville following the planned sale of Humana.

When it was announced last year, Aetna's plan to buy Louisville-based Humana launched immediate concerns abut the future of about 12,000 jobs in the city. The Connecticut-based Aetna has said it plans to base its Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE businesses in Louisville.

Far from job loss, Aetna's plan has led to speculation that the job stock in the city could grow.

Humana CEO Bruce Broussard and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini spoke on Tuesday night about the future of the merged company and Louisville during the Greater Louisville Inc. annual meeting. Nearly 1,000 business leaders attended the meeting

Broussard said the merged company and Louisville have a "very bright future."

Broussard noted the uncertainty with the deal, which still requires approval from federal regulators.

"Both on Aetna's side and on our side," he said.

He encouraged Louisville residents to remain positive amid the uncertain times. He said fears without facts could hurt Humana's current work.

"We don't want great associates to leave our company as a result of our uncertainty," he said.

Bertolini said as the deal moves forward the company will be examining the status all of its offices.

"But we've made commitment to only one community as a location for the most important part of our business, and that's Louisville," he said.

Bertolini also promised that 10,000 Humana employees will get a raise at the close of the transaction.

Humana has deep roots in Louisville, including multiple office spaces downtown and a mark on philanthropy in the city, including sponsorship of the world-renown Humana Festival of New American Plays.

Humana co-founder David Jones has been active individually in local philanthropy, and his son, David Jones Jr., is chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Education.

As for details of the deal, Aetna will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Humana for about $230 per share, delivered via 54 percent in cash and 46 percent in Aetna stock.  That results in the total transaction value of $37 billion, including an assumption of Humana debt, Bertolini said in July.

The companies expect to  finalize the deal during the second half of this year.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.