The Federal Trade Commission today announced the following actions. The FTC staff contact, unless otherwise noted, is Dan Ducore, 202-326-2526.
Applications for prior approval of transactions:The FTC has received applications for prior approval of divestitures from the following. The applications will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until June 17.
- Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation, of Nashville, Tennessee, has applied for FTC approval to divest the 50 percent interest of Healthtrust, Inc. in the SSH Joint Venture, which owns and operates the South Seminole Hospital in Longwood, Florida, toOrlando Regional Healthcare System (ORHS). The divestiture would end the joint venture, and South Seminole Hospital would continue to operate under the sole owner ship of ORHS, which owns the other half interest in the joint venture. The divestiture of Healthtrust’s interest in the joint venture was required under a 1995 consent order that Columbia/HCA signed to settle FTC charges that its acquisition of Healthtrust would impair hospital competition in areas of Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Utah. In addition, a federal district court in Orlando has ordered that Healthtrust’s interest in the venture be sold to ORHS. Columbia/HCA also has petitioned the FTC to modify the 1995 order, which permits the FTC to appoint a trustee if Columbia/HCA has not terminated the SSH Joint Venture by April 1996. The modified order would state that a trustee shall not be appointed so long as any federal district court order pertaining to the disposition of the SSH Joint Venture interest remains in force. (See Oct. 5, 1995 news release for more details regarding the 1995 consent order; Docket No. C-3619.)
- Champion Healthcare Corporation, of Houston, Texas, has requested FTC approval to sell the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Paracelsus Healthcare Corporation, of Pasadena, California, as a part of the merger of Champion and Paracelsus. Champion acquired the hospital (then known as Holy Cross Hospital) from Healthtrust, Inc. pursuant to a 1994 FTC consent order requiring Healthtrust to divest Holy Cross as a condition of allowing it to acquire other assets of Holy Cross Health Services of Utah. The FTC consent order also mandates that the purchaser of the hospital -- Champion -- obtain FTC approval before selling it to any entity already operating a hospital in the area. Paracelsus is about to acquire Pioneer Valley Hospital in West Valley City, Utah, and Davis Hospital in Layton, Utah (see below). (See Oct. 21, 1994 news release for more details about the 1994 consent order; Docket No. C-3538.)
- The Stop & Shop Companies, Inc., of Quincy, Massachusetts, is seeking FTC approval to divest seven supermarkets on Cape Cod to Star Markets Company, Inc., of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The stores to be divested are located in Falmouth, Mashpee, Hyannis (two stores), Yarmouth, Harwich, and Orleans. The divestitures are among 17 required under a 1995 consent order settling charges that the Stop & Shop merger with Purity Supreme, Inc. would reduce supermarket competition in five areas of Massa chusetts, including Cape Cod. (See Nov. 1, 1995 news release for more detail regarding the consent order; Docket No. C-3649.)
Commission action regarding applications for prior approval: Following a public comment period, the FTC has ruled on applications from the following:
- The FTC has approved the applications of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation, of Nashville, Tennessee, to: (1) divest Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton, Utah, Pioneer Valley Hospital in West Valley City, Utah, and Santa Rosa Medical Center in Milton, Florida, to Paracelsus Healthcare Corporation, of Pasadena, California; (2) to divest the Emergency Medical Service business of the Santa Rosa Medical Center toRural/Metro Corporation, of Scottsdale, Arizona. The divestitures were required under the 1995 consent order referenced above, and are designed to restore that injured compe tition. (See Oct. 5, 1995 news release for more details regarding the consent order; Docket No. C-3619; Commission vote to approve these divestitures was 5-0.)
Commission action regarding petitions to reopen and modify FTC orders: Following a public comment period, the FTC has ruled on the following petition:
- The FTC has granted a petition from Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation, of Nashville, Tennessee, to modify Columbia/HCA’s obligations to hold separate the Utah assets of Healthtrust, Inc. As a result of the FTC action, Columbia/HCA’s obligation to operate the Utah assets separately from its other hospital operations in Utah will end once it completes the divestiture of Pioneer Valley Hospital and Davis Hospital to Paracelsus Healthcare Corporation (see above divestiture approval notice), rather than remaining in effect until Columbia/HCA either divests a lease for commercial office space in a build ing next to Pioneer Valley Hospital in West Valley City, Utah, or petitions the FTC to remove its obligation to divest the office space lease. The hold separate agreement accompanied the consent order referenced above, and was designed to maintain hospital competition in the relevant areas of Utah until the divestitures required by the order could be completed. (See Oct. 5, 1995 news release for more details regarding the consent order; Docket No. C-3619;) The Commission vote to modify the agreement was 4-1, with Commissioner Mary L. Azcuenaga dissenting. In a separate concurring statement, Commissioner Roscoe B. Starek, III noted that while he agreed with the result reached by the majority, he disagreed with its rationale in requiring petitioners to meet an “affirmative need threshold.” Starek urged the Commission to abandon the affirmative need threshold and restore “a simple cost/benefit balancing approach to order modifications pursuant to the ?public interest’ standard.”
- The FTC has partially granted the petition of Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI), of Englewood, Colorado, so as to end TCI’s obligation to obtain FTC approval before acquiring any cable TV system in the Columbus, Georgia, area; the Commission has substituted a prior-notice requirement, however. The prior-approval requirement was included in a 1995 consent order settling charges that TCI’s acquisition of TeleCable Corporation would eliminate competition for cable television service in Columbus. (See May 9, 1995 news release for more details regarding the consent order; Docket No. C-3575; Commission vote 5-0.)
Consent agreements given final approval: Following a public comment period, the Commission has made final a consent agreement with the following. The Commission action makes the order binding on the respondent.
- Mrs. Fields Cookies, Inc., of Salt Lake City, Utah, settling charges that advertising and promotional materials touting a cookie line as “low fat” were false and misleading for two cookies in the line. The order prohibits Mrs. Fields from misrepresenting the fat, saturated fat, cholesterol or calorie content of baked food products. (See Feb. 29, 1996 news release for more details regarding the consent order; Docket No. C-3657; Commission vote on May 13 was 5-0.) Staff contact is Phoebe Morse, FTC Boston Regional Office, 617-424-5960.
Comments on the Columbia/HCA, Champion and Stop & Shop applications should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Copies of the documents referenced above are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, at the same address; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
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