With Medical Care America no longer for sale, executives at Surgical Care Affiliates remained upbeat last week, saying that they will shift their acquisition efforts to other outpatient surgery center chains.
"We have looked at three other surgery center players-Surgical Health Corp. in Atlanta, (Chicago-based) National Surgery Centers, and Universal Health Services in Philadelphia," said William Hamburg, Surgical Care's president and chief operating officer. "And we've had discussions with two of those three."
He declined to specify which two companies Surgical Care has talked with.
Since last October, Surgical Care had been pursuing Medical Care, but with no success. In November, the company's $950 million uninvited bid for its chief rival was rejected by Medical Care's board of directors. After months of negotiations, Surgical Care's hostile takeover attempt of Medical Care eventually fell by the wayside. So did its stock, dropping to around $13 from as high as $45 in 1992.
Surgical Care's troubles haven't gone away. In April, the company authorized the repurchase of up to 2 million shares of stock, which would be used for future acquisitions and corporate purposes. Earlier this month, company shareholders voted down measures that would have made it more difficult for outside companies to conduct hostile takeovers of the company (May 23, p. 16).
However, Mr. Hamburg said the company is determined to remain independent. In fact, the Nashville, Tenn.-based surgery center chain may even profit from Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.'s purchase of Medical Care last week, either by selling some of its surgery centers in Columbia/HCA markets to the hospital giant, or by buying Medical Care facilities in markets where a Columbia hospitals aren't present.
In the meantime, Surgical Care will continue to follow its strategy of acquiring outpatient surgery centers and establishing joint ventures with hospitals, Mr. Hamburg said. The company now operates 61 centers nationwide, 15% of which are owned jointly with hospitals and hospital chains."