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Health insurer Aetna to spend $3.3B buying back stock

Aetna will spend $3.3 billion to buy back more than 20 million shares of its stock after the health insurer’s board authorized more repurchases last week.

The nation’s third largest insurer said Wednesday that it entered into accelerated buyback agreements with two dealers for about 10.4 million shares from each. Aetna will pay each dealer $1.65 billion and is using available cash to fund the deals.

Aetna had said on Friday that its board authorized the repurchase of up to an additional $4 billion worth of the company’s stock. The Hartford, Connecticut, company also said it was doubling the quarterly dividend it pays stock owners to 50 cents per share.

That announcement came a few days after Aetna called off its roughly $34 billion acquisition of Medicare Advantage provider Humana Inc. That deal had already been rejected by a judge after federal regulators sued last summer to stop both it and a similar combination of the insurers Anthem Inc. and Cigna Corp.

Shares of Aetna Inc. have climbed more than 3 percent since the insurer announced the end of the Humana deal.

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