Welcome to the October 15 top secret, always confidential (and this week, abbreviated) version of our Monday Business Briefing.
This is a condensed version of our (usually way too long) briefing because candidly, the cast and crew of Insider Louisville spent too much time last week putting together our New Establishment special report, which we will post later today.
Anyway, these are biz tips Insider Louisville staff and contributors have collected during the past few days, a few of which are NOT double-verified like Insider Louisville’s daily reporting.
But as always, this is information from insider sources with direct knowledge of events. Another week, another scoop.
This time, it’s a big one:
• Our sources are confirming the mystery health care system University of Louisville officials are negotiating with is – tah dah – Health Management Associates, a large, publicly traded system based in Naples, Fla. From what we’ve been able to piece together from our intel network, HMA is one of two firms – the other being Denver-based Catholic Health Initiative, of course – that U of L has been pursuing/negotiating with for nigh on seven months. U of L issued a request for proposal for a partner for the financially strapped University Hospital and University Medical Center all the way back in February. We called HMA execs in Florida, and to our amazement, they called us back. We gave them a chance to deny everything, saying we’d drop the line of inquiry. Instead, their incredibly cordial spokeswoman referred us to U of L for comment. U of L spokesman Gary Mans emailed back, “A partner for U of L and UMC has not been finalized. State procurement rules prohibit us from providing any details until the process has concluded.” Our insiders tell us they’re not seeing the grand plan in U of L partnering with HMA. Its only Kentucky presence is the Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center and a few clinics in Paintsville, Ky. The Hall website states it’s partially owned by physicians. “Perhaps that is why the hospital has the highest charges in the state,” states one source. He added, “I have no idea why they would be interested in partnering with U of L. Or why U of L might be interested in them. They are of little value for teaching or referral of patients. If U of L goes with them it would only be for research money, in my opinion.” But that could be some serious money, and U of L needs it. HMA is a huge health care system, ranked at No. 423 in 2011 on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. companies, up from 435 in 2010. It is roughly the sixth largest health care firm in the United States with 70 hospitals and more than 10,000 beds in 15 states, mostly in the Southeastern United States. HMA also has 462 clinics and doctors offices. HMA reported more than $5 billion in net 2011 revenue. The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “HMA.”
• Speaking of U of L, we understand officials there are down to four candidates for a new position, VP of Bioresearch. Our sources say U of L also is close to naming a replacement for Dr. Edward Halperin, who resigned last May as dean of the medical school to go to New York Medical College. Halperin’s departure – one of many – came just as University Medical Center was being completely reorganized, which university officials still refuse to talk about. Dr. Toni Ganzel took his place as interim. Will Ganzel get the permanent job?
• This is interesting. Since we broke the news Indianapolis-based Watermark Residential bought 17 acres of land for a new $27 million East End apartment complex, we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from sources who tell us the lack of decent apartments in Louisville is a major economic development challenge no one ever seems to talk about. Our real estate sources and relocation specialists here say there simply aren’t enough high-end apartments or executive homes for lease. If U of L or one of the hospital chains are trying to lure specialists here such as neurologists and pediatric cardiologists, which they are, the best candidates often turn down offers because there’s not sufficient suitable transitional housing on the way to buying our relatively inexpensive homes. Some of the better complexes, such as The Overlook at St. Thomas Apartments, are going for premium rents and run 98-percent occupancy rates. Top-end apartments and rental homes are fetching $3,500 per month, according to our sources, with lucky house hunters starting to find houses and condos for rent in Norton Commons. If they’re lucky. “It’s really hard to recruit when you can’t guarantee (a candidate) they won’t be cooling their heels for months in some complex off the Snyder Freeway.”
• Trucking magnate Charlie Johnson’s failed C.W. Johnson Xpress property is scheduled to go to the foreclosure court November 27. The amount to be recovered on the building at 1615 Maple St. is about $1 million. Johnson closed his trucking business back in the dark days of 2008. At the time, BB&T, the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based bank, sued Johnson, his company and other potential creditors of the company for $8.3 million that it says Johnson and/or the company owes on unpaid loans. Johnson said the bank would liquidate his assets, and apparently it’s taken until now to get to the building.