The talks come as health-service providers are rapidly pairing off and retailers are looking to bulk up in the face of the competitive threat from Amazon who also announced in January that it would partner with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMC on a venture to reduce their employees’ health-care costs.
It also would be Walmart’s largest deal by far, eclipsing its 1999 acquisition of the U.K.’s Asda Group PLC for $10.8 billion. Walmart, which in addition to being the world’s biggest retailer is also a major drugstore operator, has a market value of about $260 billion. The two companies are discussing a range of options, including an acquisition, one of the people familiar said. Shares of Humana surged 10% to $297 in after-hours trading after The Wall Street Journal first reported the talks. Walmart shares slipped 1% to $88.10 in late action.