North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has approved a merger proposed by MeritCare Health System, Fargo, N.D., and Sanford Health, Sioux Falls, S.D.
N.D. attorney general OKs MeritCare-Sanford merger
MeritCare spokesman Darren Huber said each system's board will meet soon for votes on the merger ahead of a news conference planned for Nov. 2.
Stenehjem, who reviewed the deal under his office's authority to protect charitable assets, wrote in a four-page letter to MeritCare that he “was unable to conclude that the transaction is not” in MeritCare's best interests.
With the help of outside accounting firm Brady, Martz & Associates, his office reviewed financial statements from both MeritCare and Sanford Health, observing that MeritCare recorded “significant operating losses in 2008” with improvement in 2009. A Deloitte study the systems commissioned that identified opportunities for increased revenue and cost reduction from the merger was deemed by the attorney general to be “objective and unbiased.” Stenehjem also noted that the scope of his review was limited because no assets would be sold.
MeritCare owns 414-bed MeritCare Medical Center in Fargo and manages four hospitals in North Dakota and Minnesota. Sanford Health owns or leases 14 hospitals and manages another 10 hospitals. They announced a letter of intent in July.
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