HCA files IPO worth up to $4.6 billion

The nation's biggest hospital operator, HCA, Inc., this morning announced it plans an initial public offering that could total up to an estimated $4.6 billion. With an initial target of $2.5 billion, the proceeds of the Nashville-based organization's return to the public markets would go toward diminishing its $25.9 billion debt, reports the AP.

HCA, which operates 162 hospitals and 106 surgery centers in 20 states and the United Kingdom, first went public in 1969, and underwent a $21 billion leveraged buyout in 2006. According to the Nashville Post, market watchers have been expecting the IPO since the passage of health reform this spring, and filed the papers shortly after reporting first-quarter results that beat year-ago numbers by 10 percent. HCA's charity care and uninsured discounts jumped 43 percent to $1.58 billion in the quarter, the firm said.

The filing also comes after the board of HCA this week approved the payment of a $500 million dividend to the company's owners, a private-equity group consisting of Bain Capital, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

BofA Merrill Lynch, Citi and J.P. Morgan are serving as joint book-running managers of the offering and representatives of the underwriters.  Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank Securities, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo Securities are also acting as joint book-running managers of the offering.  

To learn more:
- check out HCA's press release
- read this Bloomberg BusinessWeek article
- check out this Wall Street Journal piece
- read this Associated Press story
- here's the Nashville Post article