UPDATE: Sparks Intends to Sell to Health Management Associates

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Friday, Aug. 14, 2009 4:35 pm  

The trustees of Sparks Health System in Fort Smith announced Friday a letter of intent to sell the hospital system to Health Management Associates Inc. (NYSE:%%HMA%%).

The letter of intent is nonbinding, but the parties expect to close the deal in the fourth quarter.

It was the second such engagement announcement by Sparks so far this year. In March, the suitor was a division of Jackson Healthcare LLC of Alpharetta, Ga. That deal was called off in June

Judy Boreham, who chairs the board of trustees, addressed the factors involved in the change of buyers in a news release. 

"I feel very positive about the potential for a partner. Earlier this year, when we entered into discussions with another possible buyer, we were in a different position. Since that time we have seen very positive outcomes from many of the operational and strategic plans Sparks implemented, including a stringent focus on quality measures, reviewing and changing contracts, realigning staff to be better positioned in high-need areas, and putting more efficient processes in place to manage business affairs. As a result, we are providing quality health care to more and more people."

She continued:

"Naturally, the question will arise that if all this is working, why sell? The reality is that although we are seeing success, we realize we still are not able to meet the long-term growth and capital needs that health care in Fort Smith requires. For example, we need to complete the surgical area in the Renaissance Building. We have over 40,000 square feet built and shelled in with the specific intent of offering the leading-edge surgical area in the region. Also, hospitals require updated technology each year. Being able to keep up with that pace of change and provide needed services to the community is paramount to the Sparks Health System." 

Terms of the tentative deal were not disclosed.









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