Tenet sees shares dive 15% after revealing plan to offload Conifer still in works

Shares of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare closed Aug. 7 at $32.41, down more than 15 percent from the day prior.

Tenet's shares slid steadily during its second-quarter earnings call Aug. 7, as the company announced it is still working to sell its healthcare management subsidiary, Conifer Health Solutions.

In 2017, Tenet enlisted financial and legal advisers to explore the potential sale of Conifer, which provides medical billing and care management services to hospitals and physician practices. Tenet said it would decide whether to sell Conifer, in which it owns a 76 percent stake, in the first half of this year.

Tenet CEO Ron Rittenmeyer said during the second-quarter earnings call that the company is still in the process of offloading Conifer.

"As to the potential sale of Conifer, we continue the effort of engaging with a few down selected bidders," he said. "We continue to engage with these bidders on a contract framework between Tenet and a potential new owner."

Mr. Rittenmeyer also noted that Conifer's better-than-expected performance in the second quarter has not affected the company's plan to sell.

"That doesn't change my enthusiasm," he said. "If we as a company have improved it, then we as a company should get paid for that."

In July, The Wall Street Journal reported UnitedHealth Group was among the possible buyers of Conifer. However, Tenet may ultimately decide not to sell Conifer.

"I wouldn't say they weren't committed to selling [Conifer]," Brian Tanquilut, healthcare services equity researcher at Jefferies, told CNBC after Tenet's earnings call Aug. 7. "But they opened up the door to not selling it."

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