, the nation's largest health insurer, disclosed Friday that it was talking with other companies about buying its financial and international businesses, although it was continuing its discussions with the Dutch financial services company
"We are continuing to talk with
regarding their interest in Aetna's financial services and international assets," said William Donaldson, chairman and chief executive of Aetna, in a statement. "However, we have also received numerous expressions of interest in these assets from other potential acquirers."
The news unnerved investors. Aetna's shares fell 3 7/8, or 5%, to close at 69 1/2. The American depository receipts of ING were off 5/16, or 1%, to 64 9/16.
At the end of May, Hartford-based Aetna
confirmed that it was in talks to sell its financial and overseas businesses
to ING America Insurance Holdings
, a division of investment firm
Aetna has been toying with different suitors for months. In March, ING, along with
WellPoint Health Networks
, made a $10 billion
bid for the company. But Aetna turned that offer down and announced plans to
split into two publicly traded companies -- one for health insurance and other for financial services.
Meanwhile, in early March,
Southeastern Asset Management
disclosed that it had
amassed a 6% stake in Aetna and hinted that it might be involved with an acquisition proposal for the company. In a filing with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
, Southeastern said it had held "conversations with third parties" about "proposed corporate transactions of a significant nature."