Chinese billionaire ups stake in CHS as stock tumbles

Chinese investor Tianqiao Chen has a 22.6 percent stake in Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems after buying $1.6 million worth of shares, which brings his total ownership stake to 25.9 million shares, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

What Mr. Chen and his group of companies paid ranged from $3.98 to $4 per share, slightly higher than the $3.91 to $3.99 per share Mr. Chen paid earlier this month and much lower than the $6.10 to $7.10 he paid in August 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. Although he controls enough to be considered an activist investor, Mr. Chen said in a March SEC filing that he has a "good relationship" with CHS' executives and will work with them on the "ongoing turnaround strategy."

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 this year 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, Chairman and CEO Wayne Smith said during a third quarter earnings call.

CHS ended the third quarter of this year 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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