For Aetna's general counsel, major mergers are business as usual

By Annette Boyle

The Aetna-Humana deal faces its share of hurdles, but Aetna General Counsel Tom Sabatino is no stranger to dealing with regulators and merger drama, reports Bloomberg Law.

Sabatino, who assumed his role for Aetna on April 1, may need to draw on his experience as general counsel for Walgreens during its purchase of Alliance Boots in 2014 and at United Airlines through its merger with Continental in 2010, the article says.

While the Aetna-Humana combination has gained approvals from the three-quarters of the states needed, Missouri's insurance department recently issued a preliminary order blocking the sale of some insurance products if the deal goes through.

A top official from the Department of Justice has also said regulators will carefully scrutinize the Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers to ensure they will not negatively affect consumers. 

But Sabatino (right) tells Bloomberg was attracted to the general counsel position at Aetna at least in part because the company was on the cusp of a "transformational transaction" that could remake the healthcare landscape. The advantage of being a newcomer to the company, he adds, is that he can take an objective approach to executing the deal.

Indeed, Sabatino faces the challenge of integrating 550 Aetna employees in the legal and compliance departments with about an equal number on the Humana side.

On the downside, he notes that because he does not know all the individuals, he cannot understand the roles each person currently plays, which can make it harder to "put the right people in the right seats," according to the article.

To learn more:
- read the Bloomberg Law interview