New York Life in talks to buy Cigna non-health insurance unit

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Bloomberg—New York Life Insurance is the leading candidate to acquire a business from Cigna that sells insurance through employers in a transaction that would be valued at as much as $6 billion.

Cigna, the health insurance giant, is talking to other would-be bidders including MetLife Inc. and Sun Life Financial Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations. The Cigna business markets insurance products such as life, accident and disability-income policies.

Insurers have been striking deals for units that sell insurance through employers. Lincoln National Corp. bought a group-benefits business from Liberty Mutual Holding Co. in 2018 for $3.3 billion. Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. acquired an Aetna Inc. life and disability business in 2017.

The businesses are attractive to insurers seeking to diversify. The units are less capital-intensive, don’t rely as much on investment income and provide cash flow, Evercore ISI analysts said in an August note after initial reports that Cigna was looking to sell the business.

Cigna, based in Bloomfield, Conn., has been working to trim debt after last year’s acquisition of pharmacy-benefits manager Express Scripts Holding Co. for $54 billion. The company’s debt load swelled to more than $40 billion after the deal. Cigna’s also locked in a legal battle with Anthem Inc. after a planned combination of the two companies was derailed by antitrust concerns.

A spokeswoman for New York Life declined to comment, while a Cigna spokeswoman said the company doesn’t comment on rumor and speculation.

Bloomberg News