By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
Ardent Health Services says it has a “deep commitment to Forum and the community” as evidenced by its promise to invest $50 million to $70 million to improve Forum and keep its three hospitals open.
Ardent, which has bid $69.8 million for Forum Health, reacted Wednesday to a potential second bidder for Forum’s assets.
“We believe our work over the past eight months with Forum employees and their union representatives, and with city, state and congressional leaders, demonstrates our unique approach to working in close partnership with the entire community to create a solution that protects and advances hospital care here,” Kevin Gwin, vice president of communications, said in a written statement.
Ardent, with headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., has signed a purchase agreement with the Forum Board of Trustees. But this week, Community Health Systems, with headquarters in Franklin, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville, began a “due diligence” process preparatory to potentially submitting a competing bid.
A Forum union leader said CHS has requested meetings, believed to be in preparation for developing a possible offer to buy Forum.
Before submitting its bid, Ardent negotiated memorandums of understanding with Forum unions that detail concessions workers are willing to accept if Ardent buys Forum.
Those memorandums, which Forum and Ardent said are privileged and should not be released to MBIA Insurance, which insures the bonds of Forum’s major secured creditors, are the subject of a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court today.
MBIA says that though it has narrowed the scope of its request for discovery, Forum and Ardent have refused to provide the information. As a result, MBIA has asked the court to order the information available by the Friday discovery deadline.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division, moved forward the process of selling Forum by advertising dates and conditions of the sale.
According to the court’s legal ad, if Forum gets more than one qualifying bid for its assets, Forum will conduct an auction at 10 a.m. Aug. 5 in the offices of the McDonald Hopkins law firm in Cleveland.
Additionally, the court will conduct a hearing at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 10 on Forum’s sale motion.
Any objections to the sale must be filed with the court by 8 a.m. Aug. 9.