Its appetite whetted by the recent acquisition of a major competitor, the public hospital system serving the Charlotte, N.C., market unveiled plans last week to gobble up another hospital in building its regional provider network.
"For years, we have been serving a much broader region than our home county," Harry Nurkin, president and chief executive officer of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, said in a statement. "The merger of Valdese (N.C.) General Hospital and our management and professional services arrangements with other hospitals make good sense. It enables us to further control costs."
Valdese General, licensed for 172 beds, is a private not-for-profit hospital about 56 miles northwest of Charlotte.
Both parties are calling the deal a merger, but Valdese General will become part of the hospital authority, and the authority will assume the hospital's $13.5 million in outstanding debt.
The parties expect the merger to be consummated by late summer.
The June 13 announcement comes about a week after the authority closed its biggest deal: the $115 million acquisition of Mercy Health Services, the Roman Catholic hospital system serving the Charlotte market (June 5, p. 16).
Mercy owned 305-bed Mercy Hospital in Charlotte and 97-bed Mercy Hospital South, in Pineville, N.C.
The authority already operated two acute-care facilities in Charlotte, 777-bed Carolinas Medical Center and 130-bed University Hospital.
The Mercy acquisition gave the authority control of about two-thirds of the Charlotte market. But the authority says it competes in a much broader geographic area, diluting its market share to about one-third.
The Mercy acquisition didn't need antitrust clearance because the authority, as a public hospital system, isn't subject to federal antitrust scrutiny.