West Penn has new head in Highmark merger talks

West Penn has new head in Highmark merger talks

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh-based West Penn Allegheny Health System has picked a board member to lead new talks aimed at quickly consummating a merger deal with health insurer Highmark Inc.

The financially troubled hospital network says board member Paul Dimmick is charged with renewing negotiations with Highmark in earnest after Thanksgiving.

Highmark Inc. has proposed a $475 million takeover, but wants West Penn to file Chapter 11 at part of that process in hopes of trimming $750 million in bond debt and $280 million in unfunded pension liabilities.

West Penn tried to nix the Highmark deal over the insistence that it file for bankruptcy, but a county judge wouldn’t let West Penn walk away earlier this month.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says Dimmick is a former Mellon Financial Corp. executive and is vice president of West Penn’s board.

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