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.”