aetnanewBy Mitchell Young

WOONSOCKET: A suburb city of Providence, Rhode island the country’s smallest state is the home of CVS [NYSE:CVS] the company that will be the new corporate owner of Hartford based health insurer Aetna [NYSE: AET].

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolino who famously added lifestyle benefits and higher minimum wages to the company had previously announced his intention to move the company to the ultra hip “Meatpacking District" in New York in a newly constructed headquarters’ building at a cost of $85 million

The city of New York reportedly offered $34 million in incentives to move the 250 “home office” employees to the city, where they were to occupy 145,000 square feet.

Bertolini will get a seat on the board of CVS and what will be as much as $500 million of compensation, as his stock ownership, stock options, and change of ownership bonuses come into play, but he won’t be CEO.

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Aetna CEO Mark Bertonlin has promoted a $16 minimum wage to his corporate brethren, he is expected to yield $500 million from Aetna sale.

The huge payout will come from shares of Aetna stock he already owns, as well as the stock options he has the right to exercise. Bertolini owns 925,000 shares that are now worth e worth $191.5 million at the $207 per share price that CVS will pay. He would also net $222.5 million from his stock options, the rest of the payout will come from change of ownership provisions in his contract, reportedly worth $65-$80 million alone.

The new power behind the company will be the far more economical CVS CEO Larry Merlo that started his career at pharmacy school. Merlo’s CVS is headquartered in the small suburban town of Woonsocket, population, 41,000.

Merlo has made his bones as a discount retailer at Thrift Drug and later CVS where he worked his way from a VP running stores to the top job.

Will tighfisted  CVS CEO Merlo move Aetna to the high-flying NYC Meatpacking District?

Merlo, married for 38 years, lives in the tiny but wealthy town of East Greenwich Rhode island, implemented a no tobacco policy and a limit to Opioid sales. Merlo has the reputation as a penny pincher, being criticized for keeping down the store employee count and other store operating expenses down, including the length and number of breaks the pharmacists can take..

In 2015, Fortune magazine said Merlo had the “highest CEO-to-average-employee pay ratio of any American company.”

CVS declined to support the Aetna headquarters’ move saying “All real estate locations will be evaluated by CVS Health during the integration planning process, according to Carolyn Castel, VP of Corporate Communications for CVS.

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The tribal owners of the Foxwoods Resorts and Mohegan Sun casinos sent legislative leaders a letter Wednesday asking for a chance to compete with MGM Resorts International’s proposal for a Bridgeport gambling resort if the legislature is intent next year on considering opening Connecticut to casino expansion.


The letter from Rodney Butler and Kevin Brown, the chairmen of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations, hints that they are less interested in open competition than in legislation similar to the bill passed in 2017: A law authorizing the tribes to jointly develop a casino in East Windsor to blunt the loss of business to an MGM resort opening in Springfield.

Arena 3

BRIDGEPORT: Just a day after MGM Resorts CEO James Murren tried to rally Bridgeport’s business community in a speech to Bridgeport Regional Business Council, to a plan for a Casino in that city, the Mohegan Sun sent a strategic, dare we say, arrow at another Mayor Joe Ganim administration plan.

Mohegan Sun, which calls itself the “premier entertainment destination in the Northeast,” announced an exclusive partnership with the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.  The multiple-level agreement involves concerts, sporting events and sponsorships and is “effective immediately.” The Arena is run by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers an American Hockey League [AHL] affiliate of the New York Islanders,National Hockey League [NHL] team.

bestmapAccording to Forbes magazine’s 2017 Best States For Business rankings, Connecticut ranks among the ten worst states in the Country for overall business prospects.

The survey tracks Business Costs, Labor Supply, Regulations, Economic Climate, growth Prospects, and Quality of Life.

Among neighboring states, Rhode Island comes in just behind Connecticut at #43 and the land of Lobster and Senator Bernie Sanders’ Vermont even further down the ranking with Maine at #46 and Vermont at 48.

New Hampshire leads the northern New England states at #34, Connecticut and Rhode Island break into the top ten percentile in only one category “Quality of Life”, 5 and 7 respectively.

Massachusetts by contrast comes in with an overall ranking of #19 and makes the top ten states in three categories including “Labor Supply,” “Quality of Life” and “Economic Climate.” The Bay State however comes in dead last with the highest “Business Costs,”, Connecticut at #41 in costs beats out its New England rivals but falls behind New York which the survey ranks at #36 for “Business Costs” and #29 overall.

cbiaCompany Outlook 111517HARTORD: The Connecticut Business and Industry Association has asked its members, are they optimistic or pessimistic about the outlook for their firms?

The answers are to be found in the group's 2017 Third Quarter Economic and Credit Availability Survey.

There is some good news and not so good news as reported by respondents, both the percentage of business expecting improved conditions and those with a negative outlook rose in the third quarter. The survey shows significant increases over the previous quarter in both the percentage of firms reporting an improved outlook and those expecting worsening conditions.

Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents see improved conditions for their firm, up from 29% in the second quarter. However, 24% predict worsening conditions, a 10-point jump from the last quarterly survey. Forty percent forecast stable conditions, down from 57%.

"We found that several respondent groups are outperforming the norm on growth for their firms over the next three months," CBIA economist Pete Gioia said.