The Federal Trade Commission is scrutinizing at least one Southern market amid reports that it may require divestitures in that and possibly other areas in return for antitrust approval of the Columbia Healthcare Corp.-Hospital Corporation of America merger.
An HCA hospital administrator in one of the markets the agency is reviewing said he was called to Washington to testify before the FTC in recent weeks.
Mickey Smith, chief executive officer of 183-bed Aiken (S.C.) Regional Medical Center, confirmed that he went to the nation's capital to testify before FTC regulators, but he declined to comment on the specifics of his testimony. "They just asked a bunch of questions, and I answered them," he said.
Mr. Smith said he has received no indication from HCA or the FTC that his hospital will have to be sold as a condi-tion for approving the merger of HCA and Columbia. Last week, sources close to the FTC investigation said the agency is leaning toward clearing the merger, but that Columbia/HCA may be required to sell a hospital in two Southern markets. There had already been speculation that the two markets-Chattanooga, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga., which includes nearby Aiken-would draw concerted scrutiny from the FTC (Oct. 11, 1993, p. 18).
Lindy Richardson, a spokeswoman for Louisville, Ky.-based Columbia, said it would be "premature to discuss any of the details of our continuing discussion with the FTC." However, she said executives don't expect the FTC investigation to delay shareholders' votes, scheduled for Feb. 10.
There was no indication when the FTC might rule on the merger.
The merged company would operate 190 facilities and have $10 billion in annual revenues.