The Federal Trade Commission today announced the following action.
Commission action regarding applications for approval: Following a public comment period, the Commission has ruled on an application for approval of a transaction from the following:
- The FTC has denied the application of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation, of Nashville, Tennessee, to divest the 50 percent interest of Healthtrust, Inc. in the SSH Joint Venture to Orlando Regional Healthcare System (ORHS), and appointed a trustee to complete the divestiture. The SSH Joint Venture owns and operates the South Seminole Hospital in Longwood, Florida. The FTC also denied Columbia/HCA's request for an extension of the deadline for completing the divestiture, which is 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 denying the divestiture application, the FTC said that Columbia/HCA still has not submitted for review by the Commission a final divestiture agreement with ORHS. The FTC said it denied the request for an extension because (1) Columbia/HCA was involved in the District Court litigation it cited as the reason for requesting an extension at the time it agreed to the 1995 consent order and so the litigation was not an unforseeable impediment to timely divesiture, (2) Columbia/HCA has failed to demonstrate that a timely divestiture was impossible, and (3) it has failed to show sufficient diligence in its divestiture efforts. Accordingly, the FTC has appointed Robert C. Crosby to serve as trustee to divest the SSH Joint Venture Interest, and has notified Columbia/HCA that the FTC reserves the right to seek civil penalties for the firm's failure to meet the 1995 order's divestiture deadline. (See Oct. 5, 1995 news release and June 7, 1996 news advisory for more details regarding this matter; Docket No. C-3619; Commission vote to deny the divestiture application and the petition for an extension of time and to appoint a trustee to accomplish the divestiture was 5-0.) Staff contact is Elizabeth Piotrowski, 202-326-2623.
Copies of the documents referenced above are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 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.