Community Health Systems- the county’s largest single employer, with more than 5,000 workers – may be considering a sale.
“The company, with the assistance of advisors, is exploring a variety of options with financial sponsors, as well as other potential alternatives,” said a CHS press release on Monday.
Bloomberg broke the story on Friday, citing anonymous sources “with knowledge of the matter,” that CHS internal talks were “at an early stage,” with “no certainty of a deal.”
“The discussions are at a very preliminary stage and there is no timeline established for this review, ” said the release. “There can be no certainty that the exploration will result in any kind of transaction. The company does not expect to make further public comment regarding these matters while the exploration process takes place.”
“Community Health Systems’ primary focus continues to be on delivering high-quality health services in the communities where we operate,” said CEO Wayne Smith in the statement,
CHS, the second biggest for-profit hospital chain in the country by revenue, owns, leases or operates 153 affiliated hospitals in 22 states with an aggregate of nearly 27,000 licensed beds.
Its stock traded around $12 last week, down from about $60 at this time last year, and in the second quarter of this year it reported a $1.43 billion losses in continuing operations, or $12.90 per share.
Its fall largely comes from debt, and poor past acquisitions. It has been trying to shed some of that debt this year, and raise cash.
It is trying to sell off at least 12 hospitals, some of which it just bought in a 2014 acquisition of Health Management Associates, an indebted chain of more than 60 hospitals that CHS paid $3.9 billion for.
CFO Larry Cash said in a release earlier this month that of the 153 hospitals CHS currently operates, the former HMA facilities continued to post losses- 3 percent in the second quarter.
In another action this summer, CHS spun off Quorum Health Corp., 38 smaller, rural hospitals, into its own public company, raising $1.2 billion, according to its quarterly reports. It also sold for $445 million its interests in four Las Vegas Hospitals.
These sales and spin offs, however, had little effect on its falling stock price, which closed on Friday at $12.27, down from around $60 at this time a year ago.
CHS stock opened at 12.17 on Tuesday.