Healthcare Business News

Community Health Systems agrees to sell two hospitals to clear way for HMA purchase

By Beth Kutscher
Posted: January 22, 2014 - 6:15 pm ET

Community Health Systems will divest hospitals in two states in order to gain antitrust approval to close its $3.9 billion purchase of Health Management Associates.

Under a proposed settlement with the Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday, Community will sell 250-bed Riverview Regional Medical Center, Gadsden, Ala., and 116-bed Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center, Hartsville, S.C., as well as any related assets. The Franklin, Tenn.-based chain will have six months to find FTC-approved buyers.

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Antitrust approval is the final step Community needs to close its deal, which would create the largest chain by hospital count. The company said in a news release late Wednesday that it plans to complete the acquisition by the end of January, and a spokeswoman confirmed that the parties can close the deal even though the FTC allows a 30-day public comment period before finalizing the consent order.

The FTC found that the merger would have created a monopoly in Gadsden, where Community operates the only other hospital, 299-bed Gadsden Regional Medical Center. In South Carolina, the deal would have reduced the number of competitors in Darlington County from three to two.

The settlement also requires Community to hold the hospital assets separate and “maintain their economic viability, marketability and competitiveness” until they can be divested. Community must notify the FTC if it purchases other hospitals in those markets over the next 10 years.

Community Chairman, President and CEO Wayne Smith previously said the company would be willing to divest any overlapping assets, if required.

HMA shareholders voted to approve Community's bid early this month.

Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher

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