Steward sets 31-hospital auction timeline; Optum deal moves forward

Dallas-based Steward Health Care has shared a proposed bidding timeline for all of its hospitals to be sold after the for-profit system filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection May 6. 

In court documents filed May 15 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, the health system set a bid deadline for all of its hospitals, excluding the facilities in Florida, for June 24. The auction date for the "first round hospitals" is June 27 and the sale hearing is set for July 2.

The health system's "second round hospitals," which are all of Steward's Florida-based hospitals, have a bid deadline of July 26, an auction date of July 30 and a sale hearing proposed for Aug. 5.

Steward, which shared plans to sell its physician group, Stewardship Health, to UnitedHealth Group's subsidiary Optum in late March, revealed in the May 15 filed documents that it has "executed a letter of intent" and is in "advanced discussions" with UnitedHealth Group affiliate Collaborative Care Holdings to be a stalking horse purchaser for the physician group. 

A stalking horse bid is when a potential buyer is hidden from the courts, creditors and the public in a bankruptcy case, according to the Corporate Finance Institute

"... Other buyers remain interested in placing bids on these assets," the document said.

The bid deadline for Stewardship Health is proposed for June 24, with an auction date of June 27 and a sale hearing on July 2. All of Steward's "other assets" listed in the document have a proposed bid deadline of July 26, an auction of July 30 and sale hearing for Aug. 5. 

The document also states that Steward has received interest from a slew of other potential buyers for its hospitals in Arizona, Southern Massachusetts, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. 

The health system is in discussion with "various third-parties" interested in operating and purchasing its Northern Massachusetts hospitals, including regulators and state officials to help transition the hospitals to new operators. 

Becker's reached out to Steward who declined to comment.

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