Chris Holden certainly landed on his feet.
In July, his job as a division president for Triad Hospitals was ending thanks to the $6.97 billion sale of the company to Community Health Systems. By September, AmSurg Corp., Nashville, an ambulatory surgery center provider, was unveiling Holden as its new president and chief executive officer.
The criticism that Plano, Texas-based Triad took for its strategies from the investor community over the past year didnt hurt his career prospects at all, Holden said in an interview last week. We had a good reputation as a company, Holden said. Triad was known for its physician relationships and the communities that we served, and we had a track record for balancing that with performance.
Holden is one of several former high-ranking executives at Triad who have moved into new high-profile jobs in the three months since Franklin, Tenn.-based Community closed the deal. Its an interesting development considering that the company was hammered by a major shareholder, TPG-Axon Capital Management, for spending too much on acquisitions and development projects instead of focusing on its current hospital portfolio (Nov. 13, 2006, p. 12). When Community announced in March that it was trumping a bid by Triad management and two private equity firms to buy the company, stock analysts suggested that Communitys more disciplined management team could improve Triads financial results.
Those criticisms, however, had little to do with most of the companys executives, because the criticisms were about the companys strategic decisions, not its operating abilities, said Jeff Villwock, a healthcare analyst and managing partner with Genesis Capital. Those type of decisions, the capital decisionswhether youre going to build hospitals, operate what you have or acquire more hospitalsthats not done at the division level. Its done at the top, one or two executives and the board of directors, Villwock said.
Ultimately, it was Dennys call, Villwock added, referring to Denny Shelton, Triads former chairman, president and CEO.
Moreover, its not as if shareholders didnt do well with their Triad investment, said Steve Love, Triads former chief financial officer. Our basic stock price was $9.75 when we went public, and eight years later, we sold out at $54 per share, Love said. I think that, in and of itself, tells you that the strategies were pretty darn good.