Tenet Healthcare’s Conifer spin-off—most recently postponed for a year—may now be off the table altogether.
The for-profit hospital chain’s executive chairman, Ron Rittenmeyer, disclosed Tuesday on the company’s fourth quarter earnings call that plans for the revenue-cycle subsidiary are once again up in the air. The Dallas-based company said early last year it was pushing back the transaction, first announced in 2019, by one year.
“Spinning out, we’ve talked about doing that,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s that balance between, ‘What does the spin give us as a company and our shareholders?’ versus, if there’s more to do, will we have a greater valued asset for the years out? That’s the debate.”
The first inkling that Conifer was on the chopping block came in late 2017, when Tenet said it was exploring a sale. Rittenmeyer, Tenet’s CEO until last year, explained Tuesday that Tenet made that call when it was in a different financial position. It had a lot more debt than it does currently and was coming under pressure from investors.
“We agreed to do this because the army was at the door,” he said.
Now, by contrast, he said Tenet has built out Conifer’s information technology, changed out its management multiple times and moved much of its operations overseas to cut costs.
Ultimately, Tenet’s board will decide what happens with Conifer, but Rittenmeyer said the company has advisors working on the question, which could be considered at its next board meeting at the end of the month.
“At some point soon, we’re going to have to make a call, what we really think is the best decision,” Rittenmeyer said. “But I would tell you that decision is not final. There are items in question that need to be resolved.”
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