HCA Inc. this morning filed with regulators a preliminary prospectus for an initial public offering market watchers have been expecting since the passage of health care reform earlier this year.
The Nashville-based grandaddy of hospital management companies could raise up to $4.6 billion from the offering, but the company says it is targeting the sale of $2.5 billion in new shares. The money would go to trimming its debt load, which stood at $25.9 billion as of March 31.
HCA filed its IPO papers shortly after reporting first-quarter results that beat year-ago numbers by 10 percent. Net income was $476 million on revenues of more than $7.5 billion. Operating margins rose 80 basis points to 9.1 percent, with a significant drop in the bad-debt provision – it fell by 30 percent to just 7.5 percent of revenues because charity care and uninsured discounts rose by $473 million – and steady supply costs as the main drivers. Adjusted same-store admissions rose 1.1 percent during the quarter.
Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Securities are at the helm of a consortium of investment banks that will manage HCA's IPO. Also in that group are Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.
The filing comes shortly 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 controls 97 percent of HCA's shares. The money will come from the company's senior secured revolver.
Read the S-1 here.