Bon Secours Health System, Marriottsville, Md., late last week signed a letter of intent to merge its regional two-hospital system in New Jersey with a competitor there, Canterbury Health System.
The merger would give Bon Secours control over more than half of the acute-care hospital beds in Jersey City, N.J. The Roman Catholic system already owns the only acute-care hospital in neighboring Hoboken, N.J.
A definitive merger agreement is expected within "several months," the systems said. A specific closing date wasn't given.
The Bon Secours hospitals involved in the deal are 238-bed St. Francis Hospital in Jersey City and 328-bed St. Mary Hospital in Hoboken.
Canterbury, which is affiliated with the Episcopal Church, owns 358-bed Christ Hospital in Jersey City.
The merged systems' competitors in Jersey City are two hospitals owned by Liberty Healthcare System.
A proposed merger between Liberty, based in Jersey City, and Christ Hospital broke down two years ago.
The new system, dubbed the Bon Secours and Canterbury Partnership for Care, will be managed by Bon Secours.
Bob Chaloner, chief executive officer of the regional Bon Secours system, said attorneys are working to determine what regulatory clearances are needed for the deal to proceed.
The proposed merger dates back two years to when Canterbury was discussing a deal with Latham, N.Y.-based Franciscan Health Partnership, which owned St. Francis and St. Mary hospitals before selling them to Bon Secours last year.