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Community Health explores options with financial advisers

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(Bloomberg) — Community Health Systems, a troubled U.S. hospital chain with a market value of about $1.4 billion, said it’s exploring a variety of options with its financial advisers.

The discussions are at a very preliminary stage and there’s no timeline for the review, the company said Monday in a statement. Community Health said that there is no certainty of a deal and it won’t make further public comment while the process is under way.

The stock surged 16 percent Friday after Bloomberg News reported that the chain was exploring a possible sale, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Before Friday’s move, the shares had plunged 75 percent in the past 12 months. The stock dropped 1.8 percent to $12.07 in early trading Monday, before the U.S. markets opened.

Including long-term debt, Community Health has an enterprise value of about $17 billion. The high level of debt, combined with operational issues facing the company, could limit the number of potential buyers, one of the people familiar with the talks said last week.

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Sheryl Skolnick, an analyst with Mizuho Securities, said at the time that Community Health might have trouble finding a buyer in the two other biggest publicly traded hospital chains, HCA Holdings and Tenet Healthcare Corp.

Last month, Community Health posted a second-quarter net loss of $1.43 billion after writing down the value of its hospital assets. The Franklin, Tennessee-based company said at the time that it had overestimated the long-term fair value of its hospitals.

While the Affordable Care Act has expanded health coverage, its effects have waned for hospitals over the past year, and Community Health spun off 38 hospitals as Quorum Health Corp. in April as it worked to improve financial performance. The company has said it’s considering selling more.


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