Cooper Cancels Proposed Lourdes Merger


The deal didn’t pass a due diligence check, according to a statement from Cooper executives. Trinity Health, the parent company of Lourdes Health, said it would continue to seek other partnerships.

By Matt Skoufalos | December 16, 2017

The proposed merger of the Cooper and Lourdes health systems would create the fourth-largest health system in New Jersey.

Cooper University Health has withdrawn its offer to buy the Trinity Health-owned Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington, and St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton.

In August, the two organizations announced their intention to merge, creating the fourth-largest health system in the state and the largest in South Jersey, an estimated $2-billion entity with some 12,000 employees.

But Friday, Cooper said it was pulling out of the deal after “substantial and exhaustive due diligence” including “a comprehensive review of compliance, legal, regulatory, and operational issues.

“Our team has invested thousands of hours and millions of dollars in reviewing the proposed transaction,” Cooper CEO Adrienne Kirby said in a statement. “Based upon this review, unfortunately, we will not be able to consummate the contemplated transaction. We are all disappointed, but did not make this decision lightly.”

Trinity Health may court other suitors next. In August, Trinity Health Executive Vice President Ben Carter said that “continuing success for Lourdes and St. Francis depends on being part of a growing regional network with a broad presence in local communities.”

A joint statement issued Friday by Lourdes Health System President-CEO Dr. Reginald Blaber and St. Francis Medical Center President Dave Ricci said the group “will continue to pursue strategic partnerships” consistent with its mission.

Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

“We are disappointed that our three systems could not reach a final agreement on this strategic partnership,” the statement read.

“We wish Cooper all the best and look forward to serving central New Jersey together with them for a long time.”

Even with more mergers likely on the horizon, New Jersey lags the national average for such deals.

Kerry McKean Kelly, Vice President of Communications and Member Services for the New Jersey Hospital Association, described the current healthcare business atmosphere as “mergers 2.0″ in a September 2017 interview.

“Maybe 10 to 15 years ago, we saw hospitals forming larger multi-hospital systems,” McKean Kelly said then. “Now we’re seeing multi-hospital systems merging with each other to encompass larger systems.”

With the affiliations of the Kennedy and Jefferson health systems, Virtua and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and the further encroachment of Penn Medicine locations in nearby Cherry Hill, other potential partnerships for Lourdes abound.

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