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Columbia-HCA to Merge With HealthTrust in $5.4-Billion Deal : Health care: Columbia is already the nation's largest hospital operator. The new firm would have 311 facilities.

October 05, 1994|From Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Columbia-HCA Healthcare Corp., the nation's largest hospital company, said late Tuesday that it will merge with HealthTrust in a transaction valued at $5.4 billion.

Following the merger, in which Louisville-based Columbia would pay 0.88 share of its stock for each HealthTrust share and assume about $1.8 billion in HealthTrust debt, the combined company would own and operate 311 hospitals and have about 170,000 employees. Annual revenue of Columbia after the merger would exceed $15 billion.

Columbia said in a statement that the two companies believe the merger will allow them to control the cost of providing health care to patients while maintaining quality. They said they expect annual savings of about $125 million from the transaction.

"This consolidation will enhance our efforts with physicians and managed-care organizations as we together seek cost-efficient, quality results," R. Clayton McWhorter, chairman and chief executive of Nashville, Tenn.-based HealthTrust, said in a statement.

McWhorter would be chairman of the new company. Thomas F. Frist Jr., Columbia's current chairman, would be vice chairman, and Richard L. Scott, president and chief executive of Columbia, would keep his current positions.

Columbia and HealthTrust's merger proposal comes during a period of widespread consolidation in the health care industry as providers and manufacturers seek to remain profitable in the face of efforts to control the growing cost of medical care.

The boards of the two companies had been meeting on and off for some time before agreeing to the merger late Tuesday evening, according to Rosalyn Elton, vice president of finance for Columbia.

Elton said the stock portion of the transaction works out to $3.6 billion based on Columbia's closing share price Tuesday.

Columbia shares ended at $42.75, down 87.5 cents on the New York Stock Exchange. HealthTrust shares ended down 37.5 cents at $32 on the NYSE.

The merger was announced after the close of trading.

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