Mark Bertolini spoke out for the first time about the reason he's decided to move Aetna's headquarters out of Hartford, Connecticut, where the company was founded more than 160 years ago.
"We haven't told anybody where yet, but it will be sort of an investment in attracting different kinds of people into our organization," said Bertolini on CNBC Europe's "Street Signs," adding "as we have to move away from being just an insurance company to actually impacting the underlying health of the population, that requires younger people, technologists, innovation."
Last month, the health insurer confirmed it was in negotiations with several cities and indicated it would announce a decision early this summer. Aetna currently has about 6,000 employees in Connecticut, with the majority based in the Hartford area, where its headquarters occupies a 1.7 million-square-foot campus.
A source familiar with the situation said that Boston and New York are the leading contenders for the new headquarters.
A spokesperson for the city of Boston's economic development office declined to comment on Bertolini's statements. New York economic development officials did not reply to inquiries.
Bertolini would only say the company has tried to expand its footprint to communities where young talented people want to live.
"We've opened up a technology center in Massachusetts, and we'll continue to add people there. We do have a presence in Silicon Valley, in Denver, in Salt Lake, in ... Austin, Texas," he said. "Places where people want to hang out."
Aetna's departure from Connecticut would mark the state's second loss of a major Fortune 500 firm. General Electric relocated its headquarters from Fairfield, Connecticut, to Boston in 2016.