Cigna Monitoring Its Operations In Istanbul, Turkey, Where Thousands Of Protesters Clashed With Police

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Cigna Corp. is monitoring its operations in Istanbul, Turkey, where riot police fired tear gas and sprayed some of the thousands of protesters with water cannons over the weekend.

 “We are operating in a business as usual mode while monitoring the situation closely, particularly as it relates to the well-being of our employees and customers,” Cigna spokesman Matthew Asensio said in a prepared statement on Tuesday.

In August 2011, Cigna opened an office in Istanbul to sell personal accident and life policies, with plans to add other insurance products later. The company declined to say how many employees it has working in its Istanbul office or for Finansbank. It’s also not clear how many of those employees are citizens of Turkey or of other countries, including the U.S.

Police and anti-government protesters clashed Sunday after an 18-day sit-in in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square, according to the Associated Press. There is an increasing rift between those for — and against — Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a religious conservative.

Cigna has increasingly expanded its presence in Turkey in recent years. In November, 2012, the Bloomfield health insurer finalized its purchase of a majority stake in a Turkish insurer owned by a bank that is one of the largest distributors of life insurance and pension products in the country. Cigna spent 85 million euros — $108 million at the time — to buy a 51 percent stake in Finans Emeklilik, the sixth largest life and pension provider in Turkey.

In an interview with The Courant last fall, Cigna CEO David M. Cordani said, “…we identified two key geographies that were key strategic [entry] points: one being Turkey and two being India. And that’s where our focus has been thus far.”

About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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