Attorney General Josh Stein approves $1.5 billion sale of Mission to HCA

 In February 2019

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The $1.5 billion purchase of Asheville-based Mission Health gained the support of N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein after negotiations that led to concessions from buyer HCA Healthcare. Mission had hoped to complete the deal by Jan. 1, but Stein’s study extended the process. Federal Trade Commission approval was pending at press time.

HCA’s effort marks the biggest incursion by a for-profit company into the N.C. hospital industry. Mission disclosed the sale last spring after CEO Ronald Paulus doubted it could remain competitive in the consolidating health care industry without a larger partner.

HCA pledged to continue existing services at the system’s five regional hospitals for at least 10 years, twice the time originally approved by Mission’s board. It also will construct a new Angel Medical Center in Franklin and a 120-bed behavioral health facility in Asheville. The company is naming a monitor to review compliance with the agreement.

Financial advisers for Mission and Stein’s office concluded the price was fair, rebuffing criticism that Nashville-based HCA was getting a bargain in buying a highly regarded, profitable system that has a 50% market share in its 11-county region. Proceeds from the sale will create a foundation with more than $1 billion in assets, dubbed Dogwood Health Trust, to be used to promote better health. Stein pressed the trust to commit to having more board members from outside Asheville and to be more racially diverse.

HCA, which doesn’t operate in North Carolina, is the largest U.S. hospital operator. Many industry officials expect additional acquisitions once HCA gets the Mission foothold.


Football fortunes

Academics are the primary focus of North Carolina colleges, but lots of money swishes around their football programs. Coaches often rank as the highest-paid people on campus.

That’s true in Boone, where Appalachian State University topped the Sun Belt Conference in home football attendance in 2016 and 2017. Coach Scott Satterfield, 46, who recorded three conference championships in six years, has moved to the University of Louisville. His successor, Eliah Drinkwitz, spent the last three years as offensive coordinator at N.C. State University.

Drinkwitz, 35, isn’t the only new kid on the block this season. Here’s how three newly hired N.C. college football coaches will be compensated in 2019. The incentives are rough estimates.

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