Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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May 2, 2012

Howard Regional talks still ongoing

CEO had hoped to already have deal finished

Acquisition talks between Howard Regional Health System and Community Health Network, Indianapolis, are still moving forward, Howard officials said Tuesday, with important upcoming meetings scheduled for both entities’ boards.

Both hospital groups released a letter of intent in January, setting out details of a planned takeover of Howard, in which Community would acquire the Kokomo hospital’s assets in return for assuming more than $50 million in debt.

Three key meetings in the process are expected to take place in the next two weeks, including meetings by the boards of both Howard and Community.

This week, state officials with the Indiana Finance Authority announced they’ll hold a May 15 public hearing in Indianapolis on a request to transfer Howard’s tax-exempt debt obligations to Community.

Howard chief financial officer Alan Biggs said a new corporation, Community Howard Regional Health Inc., will be formed as the new owner of all of the hospital’s assets and liabilities.

Just after the potential deal was announced, James Alender, president of Howard Regional, said the affiliation with Community Health Network will be more of a partnership.

“We will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Community Health Network,” he said. “Our goal was to look for a partner that would allow us to continue to provide health care in the region.”

Alender said Howard Regional will serve as the northern anchor of Community Health Network’s central Indiana strategy.

The hospital’s name would be changed to Community Howard Regional Health.

The deal must still pass a vote by both the Howard County Council and the Howard County commissioners, and hospital officials are planning to have the required public meeting on the proposal near the end of May.

Alender initially said he hoped the deal would be finished by May 1, and the letter of intent between Howard and Community set April 30 as the ending date of an exclusive negotiating period.

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