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HCA’s Deal to Buy Steward’s Utah Hospitals on Hold After Order

June 7, 2022, 4:24 PM

The Federal Trade Commission won court approval for a temporary restraining order to pause HCA Healthcare’s proposed acquisition of Steward Health Care System’s five hospitals in Utah.

Judge Tena Campbell’s Monday order prevents the companies from consummating their deal until ten days after the US District Court for the District of Utah rules on the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction or sets a different date, according to the order.

The deal between the two regional competitors would increase market concentration and hurt competition, the agency alleged in its complaint. Nashville-based HCA and Dallas-based Steward are the second and fourth-largest hospital operators respectively in the Wasatch Front region of Utah.

The FTC filed a lawsuit late last week to block the deal, which was announced in September. The agency said it would seek a restraining order to give the court time to consider a preliminary injunction preventing the merger.

The injunction would allow the FTC time to consider the case in an administrative trial scheduled to begin on Dec. 13, according to an agency statement on June 2.

“Absent a preliminary injunction, Defendants would be able to consummate the Proposed Transaction before the FTC and Defendants have completed the administrative proceeding,” the FTC wrote in the complaint.

The December administrative trial will determine whether the proposed merger would violate sections of the Sherman and Clayton acts, according to filings.

The case is Federal Trade Commission v. HCA Healthcare et al, D. Utah, no. 2:22-cv-00375.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Papscun in Washington at dpapscun@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com