61-year-old chief executive, John Rowe, plans to retire from the company this year. Ron Williams, the insurer's 56-year-old president, was named to succeed Rowe as CEO effective Feb. 14.
Rowe, the medical doctor who has led Aetna for five years, will remain executive chairman until his retirement.
Williams joined Aetna as executive vice president and chief of health operations in March 2001. He was named president in May 2002, and joined the board of directors on Sept. 20, 2002.
Aetna closed Tuesday at $94.06. The stock cost a split-adjusted $16.97 when Rowe was named CEO on Dec. 13, 2000.
"Our solid financial performance, broad-based membership growth and ability to innovate on behalf of our customers have created a solid platform for continued growth," Rowe said in a release. "Our clinical and product innovations have had a demonstrable positive impact on the health care system. With Aetna well-positioned for future growth and success, I believe now is the right time for me to explore new ways to help improve the health care system and for Ron Williams to take Aetna to the next level."
In premarket trading, shares rose 4 cents to $94.10.