An ING Groep deal with Aetna Inc. that was thought to be dead appears to be alive again.
The Dutch financial services company was nearing a deal Monday to buy Aetna's international and financial services units for about $8 billion, according to a published report.
A month ago ING and Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna broke off talks involving the units, with the Dutch company citing an inability to agree on a price "that would provide a satisfactory return to ING's shareholders."
Aetna spokeswoman Joyce Oberdorf said Monday, "We're not going to comment on media reports" but did deny a report in London's Sunday Business that a deal with Aetna was about to be announced.
John Rex, a research analyst at Bear, Stearns & Co. in New York, said such a deal would make sense for the buyer. "ING is focusing on building up its U.S. asset management presence, and this seems to fit nicely into that," he said.
Mr. Rex added that ING could end up selling parts of Aetna's international business.
"I don't think they have much interest in the Latin America health-care business, so they'll get rid of that if they can find a buyer," he said.
ING is completing its purchase of Minneapolis-based ReliaStar for $5.1 billion and the assumption of $1 billion in debt.
That deal, announced in May, would bring ING the eighth-largest publicly held life insurance company in the United States.
Analysts said the Aetna units would complement the ReliaStar deal. "ING realizes that the gathering of assets is the best thing they could do," said Jeffrey Pittsburg, president of the securities research firm Pittsburg Institutional in Great Neck, N.Y.
ING, a 90,000-employee company, has insurance, banking, and asset management businesses and operates in more than 60 countries.