Steward secures green light for 31 hospital sale dates

U.S. bankruptcy Judge Chris Lopez authorized the sale dates for Dallas-based Steward Health Care's 31 hospitals during a June 3 hearing. 

The sales will be conducted in two rounds. The first round, which includes the health system's physician group, Stewardship Health, and all Steward hospitals excluding its Florida facilities and some of the Texas hospitals, will have a bid deadline of June 24 and a first sale hearing July 11.

The second round includes Steward's Florida hospitals and four of its Texas facilities, with a bid deadline of Aug. 12 and a sale hearing of Aug. 22.

"We handle large and complex cases, but this is a heavy lift for any professional firm and we are certainly very much working on all cylinders to do everything we can within the fastest possible timeline," Steward attorney Ray Schrock said during the hearing.

Steward in late March shared plans to sell its physician group to UnitedHealth subsidiary Optum. 

"We're very focused on attempting to sign an agreement with United Optum or another stalking horse bidder for the physician group," Mr. Schrock said. "We're also marketing that physician group to other buyers. This physician group is very sought after, it's extremely valuable."

Steward is seeking third-party financing of at least an additional $225 million after the health system's landlord Medical Properties Trust shared that it could not give Steward more than the agreed upon $75 million in debtor-in-possession financing to help with sustaining patient care while it searches for new hospital operators. 

During the hearing, Mr. Lopez approved a motion to allow Steward to provide a potential financier with incentives, including a "commitment fee" of a minimum of $6.75 million. 

"But this is what's going to create a robust, competitive process — I'm all for it," Mr. Lopez said. "It allows everyone to put their best cards on the table sooner rather than later so that we can get that leg of the case satisfied so that people can take comfort in bidding, people can take comfort in next stages and don't have to worry about financing and showing up every week to deal with that while we're running a competitive bidding process for the sales of really important hospitals."

Steward declined to provide Becker's with a comment.  

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