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Friday, Mar 27, 2015

Tennessee hospital chain buys Bayfront Health System

Tribune staff

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Bayfront Medical Center and several other Tampa-area community hospitals have been sold to a for-profit Tennessee hospital chain.

Community Health Systems on Tuesday morning formally announced its plans to buy fellow hospital operator Health Management Associates for about $3.9 billion. Officials said the deal will leave it well positioned to benefit from the health care overhaul.

The Franklin, Tenn., company says it will pay a combination of cash and stock valued at $13.78 for each share of Health Management Associates Inc., which is better known as HMA.

HMA operates Brooksville and Spring Hill Regional hospitals in Hernando County.

That price represents a drop of more than 7 percent from HMA's closing price Monday of $14.92. HMA shares fell 5.3 percent, or 79 cents, to $14.13 in pre-market trading.

The board members of both companies have approved the deal, but HMA stockholders still have to clear it.

Less than a year ago, HMA purchased Bayfront, saying the downtown St. Petersburg trauma hospital would become the flagship of its West Florida network of smaller community hospitals. HMA paid $162 million to buy an 80 percent stake in Bayfront, a century-old independent hospital that had been struggling financially.

HMA, a Naples-based chain of 71 hospitals in the southeastern United States, has recently been under pressure from stockholders to make significant changes. Its chief executive announced he was stepping down, and the company also disclosed that federal officials were looking further into its emergency room operations and billings.

Earlier this month, HMA told its six regional hospitals they would be changing their names in August to reflect the new Bayfront Health brand. It's not clear how the sales affect those hospitals, including ones in Dade City, Brooksville and Spring Hill.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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