Community Health Systems prevailed over Ardent Health Services in a bankruptcy auction to buy three-hospital Forum Health, Youngstown, Ohio, today, according to Community and Forum. Community, Franklin, Tenn., will pay $120 million in cash and has committed to invest $80 million within five years. Community also will take on certain liabilities of Forum, including the $750,000 break-up fee and up to $1.75 million in expenses owed to Ardent. Both investor-owned companies had committed to keeping all three hospitals open.
Community Health wins auction for Forum Health
The deal is subject to approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Youngstown and Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. A bankruptcy court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 10. Cordray already has approved Ardent's original proposed deal, which was $69.8 million in cash and a capital commitment of $50 million to $70 million. The attorney general, according to Community, has indicated that he will act expeditiously on his review because the deal resulting from the auction is very similar other than the purchase price.
Community said in a statement that the successful bid paves the way for discussions with Forum's unions. Community has offered an agreement on the same terms and conditions that Ardent previously negotiated with the unions, according to Forum.
Nashville-based Ardent had always expected that Community would re-enter the process, having made a significant offer earlier, Ardent spokesman Kevin Gwin said in an interview from Cleveland, where the auction took place in a law office. Gwin declined to reveal Ardent's highest bid. “We don't leave with any regrets. We feel like we did everything right,” Gwin said. The company built good relationships over the past nine months with employees, unions, physicians and community leaders, Gwin said.
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