Aetna Talks With More Companies About Buying Its Businesses - TheStreet



, 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

ING Group

(ING) - Get Report


"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

ING Barings


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."