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CVS CEO: Bertolini’s exit from board of directors was to reduce its size

Hartford Courant 2020-02-13 06:11:49

The chief executive officer of CVS Health Corp. said Wednesday the departure of former Aetna Inc. CEO Mark Bertolini from the board of directors was to make it smaller.

“Our board had grown to 16 and there was a goal to reduce it in size, make the board more manageable,”CEO Larry Merlo said in an interview with CNBC.

“We’ve got a tremendous amount of health care experience,” he said, citing experts in pharma, consumer care, health care policy and biotech.

“We also have three legacy Aetna directors who combined have about 30 years of service on the legacy Aetna board so we’ll continue to benefit from their counsel, advice and oversight,” Merlo said.

Three former Aetna board members who are now on the CVS Health Board of Directors are Fernando Aguirre, Roger Farah and Edward Ludwig.

In addition, three Aetna executives who were retained at CVS are Karen Lynch, who is president of the Aetna business; Rick Jelinek, executive vice president of integration for CVS Health; and Jonathan Mayhew, who is executive vice president of transformation.

Bertolini, who presided over the sale of the Hartford-based health insurer to CVS in 2018, said last week he was forced off CVS’ board of directors.

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“I was willing to continue to serve on the board of directors in support of the most transformative effort in health care for our nation,'' Bertolini told The Wall Street Journal. "However, the board thought otherwise.”

Bertolini, who assumed a seat on CVS Health’s board after the $69 billion Aetna acquisition, said the merging of the two companies is not yet complete.

The “integration is far from over,'' Bertolini said.