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Health care and benefits provider

Aetna

(AET)

will cut 2,750 jobs over the next year in order to ensure profitability in the face of reduced membership and a recent

business realignment.

The shares were down 25 cents to $37.12 on the news.

The Hartford, Conn.-based company will be left with a total of 28,000 employees after the cuts, and it will take an after-tax charge of $58 million against third-quarter results for severance packages and other facilities costs.

Aetna reported a full-year loss of $1.96 a share in 2001, but rebounded in its first two quarters of this year, earning 44 cents a share in the first and 32 cents a share in the second. Analysts were expecting the company to earn 35 cents a share in its current third quarter and $1.48 for the year.