A Big Deal Finally Arrives for Healthcare Providers ETFs

After weeks of patiently waiting and absorbing rumors that a big deal was imminent, the iShares U.S. Healthcare Providers ETF (NYSEArca: IHF) and the equal-weight SPDR S&P Health Care Services ETF (NYSEArca: XHS) finally have some big consolidation to crow about.

After the close of U.S. markets last Thursday, Aetna (NYSE: AET) said it will acquire smaller rival Humana (NYSE: HUM) for $37 billion in cash and stock. Combined, Aetna and Humana would rival Anthem as the second-largest health insurer in the U.S., according to Reuters.

For weeks, investors and the financial media have been expecting a wave of consolidation that could see marriages among some of IHF’s largest holdings. Earlier this week, Cigna (NYSE: CI) rejected a $47 billion takeover offer from Anthem (NYSE: ANTM). Dow component UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH) has made overtures for Aetna. [More M&A Coming for This Healthcare ETF]

As of July 2, Aetna was IHF’s third-largest holding at a weight of almost 6.6% while Humana was the ETF’s eighth-largest at a weight of 4.6%. XHS has a 2% weight to Aetna while the ETF devotes 1.65% to Humana.

Aetna’s deal for Humana was the second last week to affect holdings of IHF and XHF, two of this year’s top-performing industry ETFs.

Also last Thursday Centene (NYSE: CNC) said it will acquire rival Health Net (NYSE: HNT) for $6.8 billion in cash and stock, a purchase price that also includes the assumption of $500 million in debt.