By Hilary Russ
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The state of Connecticut, once known as the insurance capital of the world, has been trying to woo health insurer Aetna <AET.N> with incentives to stay in the state, Governor Dannel Malloy said on Wednesday.
His remarks came in response to reports that the insurance giant was considering moving out of the state, which would be a blow to Connecticut and its capital, Hartford, both of which already face tenuous fiscal and economic futures.
Last year, General Electric <GE.N> said it was leaving its longtime home in Fairfield, Connecticut, for a Boston location.
Connecticut was recently downgraded by the three biggest Wall Street credit rating agencies over concerns about its dimming economy and an April tax revenue shortfall that have rattled its budget.
Hartford is facing its own deficit and has been in talks with bankruptcy lawyers about possible representation, according to local news reports.
In a statement, Aetna said it was in negotiations with several states about a relocation of its headquarters, “with the goal of broadening our access to innovation and the talent that will fill knowledge economy-type positions.”
“We remain committed to our Connecticut-based employees and the Hartford campus, and hope to have a final resolution by early summer,” it said.
Malloy said he believed the “vast majority of the 5,800 jobs in Connecticut will stay here, and that they could continue to choose Connecticut as their regulator,” according to prepared remarks.
“My administration has met and spoken with senior Aetna leadership multiple times in recent months,” the Democratic governor said. The state made “formal offers” of direct incentives, “including matching anything put on the table from a competing state.”
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin took a less optimistic tone in statements on Wednesday, saying: “I think it is clear that Aetna decided a long time ago to relocate their corporate headquarters out of Connecticut.”
“Losing Aetna’s flag is a hard blow for the state and for the greater Hartford region,” he said.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Peter Cooney)