CHS trumps private bid for Triad Hospitals

DALLAS (AP) - Community Health Systems Inc. said Monday it has agreed to buy Triad Hospitals Inc. for about $5.1 billion plus $1.7 billion in debt, topping a previous bid by private-equity buyers.

CHS said the deal would make it the nation's largest publicly traded hospital company. It would own or operate about 130 hospitals in 28 states and control more than 18,700 beds. Franklin, Tenn.-based CHS agreed to pay $54 per share, the companies said.

Triad, based in Plano, Texas, had previously agreed to be taken private in a $4.7 billion sale, or $50.25 per share, to an affiliate of Goldman Sachs and a JPMorgan Chase & Co. spinoff.

The Triad transaction comes after hospital giant HCA Inc. was sold to private owners for $21.3 billion. Hospitals are struggling with flat volumes and more unpaid bills from uninsured patients.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)