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Health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc. said Wednesday that G. Mike Mikan, the CEO of its Optum health service business, is leaving the company to lead a private equity fund.

The company said Larry Renfro will be the new CEO of Optum business, which has more than 30,000 employees and is divided into three segments: OptumInsight, OptumHealth and OptumRx. Renfro has been with the company since January 2009, and his positions at UnitedHealth have included CEO of the public and senior markets business. He joined the Office of the CEO earlier in 2011.

UnitedHealth is the largest U.S. health insurer based on revenue. It said Optum does business with about 250,000 health professionals and physician practices, 6,200 hospitals and facilities, 270 federal and state government agencies, and more than 2,000 health plans.

Jefferies and Co. analyst David Windley said Mikan's departure was unexpected, but Renfro should be well-suited to running Optum because of his background in financial services, technology, and in handling health benefits for seniors. Windley said Mikan had been CEO of Optum for about five months. He maintained a "Buy" rating and a price target of $60 on the stock.

Shares of UnitedHealth rose 20 cents to $53.05 in afternoon trading.

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