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Akron General no longer in exclusive talks with Cleveland Clinic, CHS

Akron (Ohio) General Health System said it no longer is in exclusive talks with the Cleveland Clinic and Community Health Systems about being acquired and would look for other suitors.

Last August, the Clinic and Community Health Systems—a large, publicly traded hospital company in Franklin, Tenn.—said they planned to acquire the financially stressed health system in Summit County as part of a new joint venture and convert it to a for-profit enterprise.

Akron General CEO Dr. Thomas “Tim” Stover said the potential deal wilted due to disagreements between Community Health Systems and the Clinic. A Clinic spokeswoman declined comment and deferred to Community Health Systems.Dr. Stover said Akron General plans to open talks with other health systems about a similar deal, but he would not say which ones. When the potential deal with the Clinic and Community Health Systems was announced in August, Akron General only had signed a non-binding letter of intent to proceed with the discussions.

“I've always had reserve plans in my back pocket, which is exactly what we're going to have do,” said Dr. Stover, adding that he would be meeting with a potential suitor this afternoon.

The proposed sale of Akron General, which was expected to be finalized in late 2013 or early 2014, was the first major announcement between Community Health Systems and the Clinic since the two enterprises in March 2013 unveiled a “strategic alliance.” At the time, both organizations were relatively vague in how they'd work together.

In an e-mailed statement, Community Health Systems spokeswoman Tomi Galin said her company and the Clinic haven't agreed how the joint venture would be structured. Subsequently, Akron General notified Community Health System it would explore other opportunities.

“We have appreciated the opportunity to explore a possible relationship with Akron General and understand their decision to end exclusive negotiations at this time,” Ms. Galin said.Akron General in recent years had rebuffed offers — including one from the Clinic — to become an arm of a larger enterprise. For years, it had touted publicly its preference to remain an independent enterprise. Dr. Stover, however, softened that rhetoric in 2011 when he told Crain's he expected the health system at some point would become an arm of a larger system.

Akron General no longer in exclusive acquisition talks with Cleveland Clinic, Community Health Systems originally appeared on the Crain's Cleveland Business website.

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