Walgreens and Humana are reportedly looking to take stakes in one another

stefano pessina.JPGBazuki Muhammad/Reuters

  • Walgreens and Humana are looking to take stakes in on another, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
  • The retail pharmacy giant and health insurer are already partners on health clinics in the Kansas City area.
  • It's happening at a time when the lines around healthcare companies are being redrawn, as rivals CVS Health looks to finalize its deal to acquire insurer Aetna and Amazon moves into the pharmacy business through the acquisition of an online pharmacy.

Walgreens and Humana may be seeking a closer partnership.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the pharmacy giant and health insurer are in talks to take equity stakes in one another. The two are already partners on health clinics in the Kansas City area.

Walgreens declined to comment and Humana didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

This isn't the first time Humana has reportedly been looking for a closer relationship with a retailer. In March, Walmart was reportedly looking to acquire Humana, though that hasn't materialized.

Humana specializes in sales of private health plans for the elderly. The business, known as Medicare Advantage, is lucrative and growing as the US population ages.

Walgreens, for its part, is up against stiff competition for customers, facing off against the likes of Amazon, which in June got into the pharmacy business through its acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack, CVS Health, which is making a big bet on the healthcare aspect of its business through the pending acquisition of insurer Aetna, and of course retail giant Walmart.

In October, Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina told Bloomberg that the company should have bought a health insurer four years ago, though at that time it was working to acquire Rite-Aid.

"We should have bought an insurance company four years ago when our multiple was was higher than their multiple," Pessina said.

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