Aetna Chairman And CEO John W. Rowe, M.D., Will Retire By The End Of 2006; Ronald A. Williams Appointed Chief Executive Officer Effective February 14; Dr. Rowe Will Be Executive Chairman
HARTFORD, Conn., January 4, 2006 — Aetna (NYSE: ΑET) today announced that Chairman and CEO John W. Rowe, M.D., 61, plans to retire by the end of 2006 and that President Ronald A. Williams, 56, has been named president and chief executive officer (CEO), effective February 14. Dr. Rowe, who has served as the company’s chairman since April 1, 2001 and CEO since Dec. 13, 2000, will serve as executive chairman from Feb. 14 until his retirement.
"Some time ago, I initiated discussions with the board regarding my desire to retire upon the expiration of my current contract, which runs through 2006," Dr. Rowe said. "As a result of a very thorough succession planning process, we decided that naming Ron Williams CEO early in the year would provide for an orderly transition.
"By any measure, Aetna has exceeded the expectations of all our constituents. By focusing on the needs of our customers and delivering value to them, we have seen Aetna’s market value increase by more than $23 billion since its low point in 2001.
"Our solid financial performance, broad-based membership growth and ability to innovate on behalf of our customers have created a solid platform for continued growth. Our clinical and product innovations have had a demonstrable positive impact on the health care system. With Aetna well-positioned for future growth and success, I believe now is the right time for me to explore new ways to help improve the health care system and for Ron Williams to take Aetna to the next level.
"Ron has been a full partner with me in leading the Aetna turnaround and returning the company to profitable growth," Dr. Rowe said. "The board of directors is very confident that Ron is the right person to lead the company to our next goal of attaining industry leadership.
"Ron brings to this new role not only his expertise as the finest operating executive in our industry, but also an acknowledged leadership role in setting strategy and creating innovative approaches to health care benefits products and services.
"Ron is also a respected leader among Aetna’s employees, and he has earned the trust of our shareholders," Dr. Rowe said. "He is better positioned than anyone to build on Aetna’s progress, and I look forward to working with him to ensure a smooth transition."
Williams joined Aetna as executive vice president and chief of health operations on March 15, 2001. He was named president effective May 27, 2002, and joined the board of directors on Sept. 20, 2002. Prior to joining Aetna, he served as group president of the Large Group Division of WellPoint Health Networks and president of WellPoint’s Blue Cross of California subsidiary.
"I am deeply gratified by the decision of the Board to appoint me as Aetna’s next CEO," Williams said. "Since joining Aetna in early 2001, I have worked with Jack Rowe and our employees across the country to develop and implement a winning strategy, to improve our operating fundamentals, and to refocus our efforts on the needs of our customers.
"Jack has been an inspirational leader for Aetna at a critical time in the company’s more than 150-year history. He has not only led a remarkable turnaround and return to profitable growth, but also been a recognized national leader in health care policy.
"Going forward, we will build on Aetna’s recent success. We will focus on growing our business by listening to our customers, understanding their needs, and providing them with innovative solutions. We will continue to develop new approaches to medical management and quality, performance-based physician networks and consumer information in order to help people optimize their health and financial security. It is also important that we continue to work collaboratively with physicians to help improve the quality of health care in America, and to actively impact health policy formulation.
"Aetna’s very significant success attests to the skills of a hardworking management team and 27,000 committed employees. Aetna has a bright future, and I look forward to meeting new challenges and working with all my colleagues at Aetna to develop next generation solutions to better serve our customers."
As CEO, Williams will be responsible for the management of Aetna. As executive chairman, Dr. Rowe will continue to be an active, full-time executive. In addition to chairing the board of directors, he will manage corporate priorities related to employee engagement, internal audit and risk management, public policy, public health leadership initiatives and corporate public involvement. Dr. Rowe will continue his work on Aetna’s "Chairman’s initiatives" on health, as well as speak out on public policy and industry issues.
Upon Dr. Rowe’s retirement, the company will enter into a consulting agreement with him which will allow the company to continue to obtain his significant expertise on specific business issues related to health.
As one of the nation’s leading providers of health care, dental, pharmacy, group life, disability and long-term care benefits, Aetna puts information and helpful resources to work for its approximately 14.65 million medical members, 13.03 million dental members, 9.34 million pharmacy members and 13.68 million group insurance members to help them make better informed decisions about their health care and protect their finances against health-related risks. Aetna provides easy access to cost-effective health care through a nationwide network of more than 700,000 health care professionals, including over 418,000 primary care and specialist doctors and 4,231 hospitals. For more information, please visit www.aetna.com. (Figures as of September 30, 2005)