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HEALTHTRUST, HOLY CROSS WORKING OUT SALE WITH FTC

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Despite objections from the Federal Trade Commission, the sale of Holy Cross Health Services of Utah is still pending - at least for now. But the parties are negotiating with the FTC, which means that if the sale happens, it may not be the original deal.

On Friday, officials of both Holy Cross Health System Corp. and HealthTrust announced they were signing another letter of agreement for the purchase.Under the sale, which has been pending for months, the for-profit HealthTrust would buy Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City, Holy Cross Jordan Valley Hospital in West Jordan, St. Benedict's Hospital in Ogden and 10 clinics along the Wasatch Front.

Not included in the sale plans are Holy Cross Hospital Foundation and the St. Benedict's Foundation.

The Sisters of the Holy Cross, an order of Catholic nuns based in South Bend, Ind., are owners of the hospitals. The potential purchaser, HealthTrust, is headquartered in Nashville, Tenn.

In March the FTC commissioners voted to oppose the sale, citing potential antitrust concerns.

This week, Holy Cross Health System Corp. and HealthTrust signed a second extension of their purchase agreement. According to HealthTrust spokesman Jeff Hasen in Salt Lake City, the agreement gives the parties more time to work out their problems.

"Discussions with the Federal Trade Commission are continuing in an effort to reach a negotiated settlement so that the proposed transaction can go forward," he said, quoting officials of both groups. "Both Holy Cross and HealthTrust are desirous of bringing the transaction to a prompt conclusion."