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US: FTC goes back on Phoebe Putney hospital merger settlement

 |  September 10, 2014

The US Federal Trade Commission has decided to nix an earlier settlement agreement made with Phoebe Putney Health System over its acquisition of a rival hospital group, instead deciding to return to its earlier goal of forcing divestitures on the company.

According to reports, the FTC has withdrawn its agreement with Phoebe Putney and resolved the dispute about the group’s $200 million acquisition of Palmyra. The FTC argued that the takeover allowed Phoebe Putney to hold a monopoly in the area.

The lawsuit made it all the way to the US Supreme Court last year; the Court sided with the authority, reversing a lower court’s decision that Phoebe Putney was exempt from federal antitrust review because it was following state laws.

Following SCOTUS’s ruling, the two sides reached an agreement that did not involve the divestiture of assets.

Now, however, the FTC says it has ultimately determined that requiring divestiture of the acquired hospitals will not need review under Georgia laws as previously thought. Further, the watchdog said there may be a new buyer for the assets, which would preserve competition.

The case is set for an initial hearing in administrative court next February.

Full content: Modern Healthcare

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