Health Management Associates, Naples, Fla., said it is recapitalizing its balance sheet and will return about $2.4 billion to shareholders through a special dividend. The one-time special cash dividend of $10 per share is payable March 1 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 27. The company said it is suspending its regular dividend indefinitely in light of the special payout. Health Management will record about $200 million in bad-debt expense for the fourth quarter of 2006 as additional reserve for self-pay receivables. HMA is recapitalizing with $3.25 billion of new senior secured credit facilities, including the refinancing of outstanding debt under the company's current revolving credit line. The company also said it will post a quarterly gain of $14 million from insurance reimbursement related to property damage incurred at its 153-bed Biloxi (Miss.) Regional Medical Center from Hurricane Katrina. "We believe our plan represents a prudent and efficient use of our balance sheet capacity that will enable Health Management Associates to continue generating sustainable free cash flow to meet our capital needs and growth objectives," Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Vumbacco said in a statement. -- by Associated Press
HMA returns billions to shareholders
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