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LifePoint Health is in talks to buy Ardent Health Services, reports The Wall Street Journal, valuing the company at more than $2 billion with debt. 

The deal would create a more than 100-hospital network worth nearly $10 billion including debt, according to the report, passing Nashville-based Ardent from Sam Zell’s Equity Group Investments to Apollo Global Management. New York-based Apollo bought LifePoint in 2018 for $5.6 billion and merged with Brentwood-based RCCH HealthCare Partners, with intent to consolidate more health care systems in the region. 

A purchase of Ardent would diversify LifePoint’s portfolio beyond rural hospitals and into more lucrative suburban and urban markets, as well as leverage spending power to lower costs.. 

The discussions come after the retirement of longtime Ardent CEO David Vandewater, who has been with the company since 2001. Upon his retirement last year, the company reported having 30 hospitals in six states and more than $4.4 billion in revenue. Marty Bonick, the former CEO of PhyMed Healthcare Group, took over the role in August. 

If agreed upon, the combined companies would establish one of the largest health systems in the country, only behind local competitor HCA Healthcare. 

This post originally appeared in our partner publication, the Nashville Post

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