When

ING American Insurance Holdings

(ING) - Get Report

and

WellPoint Health Networks

(WLP)

offered to buy

Aetna

(AET)

for $10 billion last month, the two envisioned dividing up the company's global financial services and health care divisions.

On Sunday, Aetna said no to the offer but yes to the plan.

The Hartford-based company announced that it had rejected the takeover bid and instead decided to split itself into two publicly traded companies.

Aetna said it planned to separate its finance and health care businesses "as soon as an orderly separation can be achieved." The company also plans to sell off international assets that do not fit the strategy of either resulting company.

Aetna called the offer from ING, a unit of ING Groep, and WellPoint, too low.

"The financial consideration mentioned in the ING/WellPoint letter, even if taken at face value, significantly understates the value of our company and does not reflect the current value or future potential of our core businesses," Aetna Chairman and CEO William H. Donaldson said in a statement.

Donaldson's predecessor, Richard Huber, resigned just two weeks ago amid investor dissatisfaction over the company's plunging stock price.

Donaldson is a co-founder of investment bank

Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette

(DLJ)

. He had served on Aetna's board since 1977 before being appointed to the top post.

In Other News

GM

(GM) - Get Report

and Italy's

Fiat

are reportedly close to reaching an alliance. Citing an unnamed source,

Reuters

reported Sunday that the two automakers are negotiating a stock swap that could give GM as much as a 20% stake in Fiat.

Tommy Hilfiger

(TOM)

is believed to be in talks to buy all or part of privately owned

Calvin Klein

,

The Sunday Telegraph

in London reported. Calvin Klein could be valued at $1 billion, the newspaper said.

Finnish telecom

Sonera

(SNRA)

denied a report in

The Sunday Times

of London that it was in talks to sell a 25% stake to the U.K.'s

Vodafone Airtouch

(VOD) - Get Report

for about 10 billion pounds, or $15.8 billion. The newspaper said other prospective buyers included

MCI WorldCom

(WCOM)

,

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

and

France Telecom

(FTE)

.

The Sunday Times

also said industry sources expect Ireland's

Fyffes

to buy or merge with

Dole

(DOL) - Get Report

, which suffered enormous losses last year when Hurricane Mitch hit Central America.

In Japan, the gross domestic product fell 1.4% in the last three months of 1999 from the previous quarter, outpacing economists' expectations. Two consecutive quarters of decline constitute a recession.

The

Nikkei

, meanwhile, was down 10.5 points or 0.05% to 19,739.90 in early Monday trading.

In the Papers

Barron's

leads off with its annual ranking of online brokers. The top five making the list this year were:

National Discount Brokers

(NDB)

,

DLJ Direct

(DLJ)

,

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

,

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

and

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

(MWD)

.

Mattel

(MAT) - Get Report

could become the target of a takeover, according to a report in

Barron's

. The toymaker's stock has plunged amid its troubled takeover of the

Learning Co.

, but

Barron's

describes Mattel's problems as "by no means insolvable." The magazine speculates that

Disney

(DIS) - Get Report

could be among those interested in the company.

Also in

Barron's

is an interview with Larry Jeddeloh, chief of Minneapolis'

TIS Group

. His stock picks include Germany's

Commerzbank

,

Federated Department Stores

(FD)

,

ATS Medical

(ATSI)

, South Africa's

Harmony Gold Mining

(HGMCY)

,

Hitachi

(HIT)

, Japan's

Trans Cosmos

, Japan's

Jafco

,

Evotec

,

Imclone Systems

(IMCL)

,

Geron

(GERN) - Get Report

and

Qiagen

(QGENF)

.

The mainstays of corporate America are no longer the only companies losing employees to the Internet gold rush.

The Washington Post

reports that many dot-coms themselves are seeing their workers leave for online start-ups. The exodus has gotten so bad at

Netscape

(AOL)

, the newspaper reports, that ex-employees now have their own nickname: "Netscapees."

David Rheingold is a New York-based freelance writer. At the time of publication he was long Disney, although holdings can change at any time.