Chinese billionaire boosts stake in CHS to 24%, continues to support company's turnaround plan

Chinese investor Tianqiao Chen and his group of companies have a 24 percent stake in Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems after buying more than $36 million worth of shares in the past month, which brings his total ownership stake to nearly 27.5 million shares, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Mr. Chen and his Shanda Group company affiliates paid between $3.90 and $4 per share, much lower than the $6.10 to $7.10 he paid in August 2017 for 9.8 million shares of CHS.

Mr. Chen, a pioneer in China's online gaming industry, began upping his stake in CHS in 2016. Mr. Chen is CHS' largest shareholder and controls enough to be considered an activist investor, but he and his companies continue to show support for CHS' management and the turnaround plan they put in place.

"We have consistently maintained a good relationship with [CHS] and are supportive of the company and its management team as they continue to execute on the company's strategic objectives," Robert Chiu, group president of Shanda Group, said in a statement

CHS Chairman and CEO Wayne T. Smith said CHS is pleased with the continued support from Mr. Chen and his companies. 

To improve its finances and reduce its heavy debt load, CHS put a turnaround plan into place in 2016. As part of the initiative, the company announced plans in 2017 to sell off 30 hospitals. CHS completed its 30-hospital divestiture plan Nov. 1, and the company expects to sell another group of hospitals with combined revenue of $2 billion.

CHS ended the third quarter of 2017 with a net loss of $110 million on revenues of $3.67 billion. That's compared to the same period of 2016, when the company recorded a net loss of $79 million on revenues of $4.38 billion.

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