(Reuters) - Walmart Inc (WMT.N) is in early-stage talks with Humana Inc (HUM.N) about developing closer ties, with the acquisition of Humana being discussed as one possibility, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Shopping carts are seen outside a new Wal-Mart Express store in Chicago July 26, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress/Files

Walmart approached Humana health insurance earlier this month and the deliberations are preliminary, one of the sources said. While the conversations have focused on new partnerships, an acquisition of Humana by Walmart is also something being discussed, the source added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Humana and Walmart did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Carl O'Donnell and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler

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