Duke LifePoint JV inks Michigan deal

Upper Peninsula MOU would lift venture's hospital roster to five

The joint venture between LifePoint Hospitals and Duke University has signed a non-binding agreement to take over a fifth hospital in a deal that would take the Brentwood-based company into Michigan for the first time.

Duke LifePoint officials say their memorandum of understanding with the administrators of Marquette General Health System helps pave the way for a formal acquisition agreement later this spring. Marquette General Hospital, the flagship of MGHS, has 290 beds and posted a 2010 profit of about $7 million on revenues of $517 million.

“Duke LifePoint and Marquette General have a great opportunity to capitalize on each organization’s innovative approach to integrated delivery of quality healthcare in this region,” said LifePoint Chairman and CEO Bill Carpenter. “Together, we will broaden the clinical services available here and advance our shared dedication to clinical quality and patient safety.”

Carpenter and his team joined forces with Duke in late 2010 and have since acquired or have agreed to buy four hospitals in North Carolina and Virginia. Their first foray into Michigan comes with the promise to invest in Marquette General's facilities and physician recruitment.

“Duke LifePoint is clearly the best match for Marquette General and the communities we serve,” said Judy Watson-Olson, vice chair of the MGHS board. “Together, we will be able to ensure that Marquette General is here caring for and serving our community for generations to come.”

Shares of LifePoint (Ticker: LPNT) ended Monday trading at $38.84. They're essentially unchanged over the past three months.