METROWEST: To Be Sold For $75 Million To Columbia
Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. announced yesterday it will sell its 80% stake in Boston-area MetroWest Medical Center for $75.1 million to Tenet Healthcare Corp. MW Health Partner Inc. will retain its 20% stake in the medical center, and, pending approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the state Attorney General's office, the deal should close in January. (Columbia/HCA release, 11/4). The Boston Globe reports that the sale "ends a long period of uncertainty for MetroWest, whose two hospitals in Framingham and Natick have been on the auction block since late 1997," and "solidifies Tenet's position in the Massachusetts hospital market." The deal closely resembles the agreement signed in June "with one exception -- Tenet and MW Health agreed to contribute an additional $6.1 million over two years for capital improvements at MetroWest" bringing the total for the five-year capital improvement program to $16.1 million. Under the agreement, both hospitals will keep their emergency rooms open for at least three years and continue their commitment to providing care for the poor.
The Globe notes that "Tenet has been cultivating a softer corporate image to contrast itself with Columbia/HCA, whose aggressive business approach created controversy in Massachusetts, a traditional stronghold of nonprofit health care." Ann Thornburg of PricewaterhouseCoopers said, "Most interesting will be to see if a kinder, gentler Tenet is substantively different from Columbia" (Pham, 11/5). Roger Peloquin, president of MW Health Partner Inc., said "We are especially pleased" about the additional $6.1 million won for capital improvements because it "sends a message to the MetroWest community that Tenet is willing to invest in our community hospitals" (Tenet release, 11/4).