Charges may put HCA's IPO plan on ice

HCA's plans to move from a privately-held company to a publicly-owned entity again may have hit a snag. It seems that the SEC is looking into charges that HCA tampered with payroll records to bill for non-existent nursing shifts in London.

The SEC wants to know more about a legal dispute with a former HCA employee based in the company's London-based payroll department. The employee has raised questions over HCA's nurse scheduling system and pay made to employees in the company's six UK-based hospitals.

The SEC ordinarily wouldn't have the right to mess with HCA, as it doesn't presently sell stock, but the fact that it's issued public debt puts it back under the SEC's jurisdiction.

Technically, HCA can proceed with the IPO whether or not the SEC continues its investigation. However, the company would have to disclose that the SEC was on its tail when it wrote up its IPO papers, something which isn't great for encouraging investor buy-in. No word yet on whether the news will change HCA's IPO  plans.

To learn more about the SEC's investigation:
- read this piece from The Tennessean

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