The board of the UNC Health Care System reiterated this afternoon that it doesn't plan to sell its Raleigh subsidiary, Rex Healthcare, but will form a committee to consider an acquisition offer from rival WakeMed.
The UNC Health board met today and approved a resolution that after a preliminary review, last week's $750 million unsolicited takeover bid from WakeMed "would substantially disrupt the business model" of UNC Health.
"We are not interested in selling Rex," said UNC Health CEO Bill Roper, after the board meeting.
WakeMed leaders notified UNC president Tom Ross about its proposal to buy Rex in a letter last week. But that letter did not include details such as how WakeMed would pay for a deal or its ability to afford it, Roper said. "We will need much, much more detail on what their offer is," he added.
When UNC Health receives an official offer from WakeMed, it plans to form a special committee of board members to review it, Roper said. Details such as who would serve on the committee haven't been determined.
"We consider it a major step forward that UNC Health Care's Board of Directors has acknowledged that WakeMed’s offer to purchase Rex is deserving of review and consideration," WakeMed CEO Bill Atkinson said in a prepared statement.
"We are confident that, contrary to the board’s resolution, the purchase is in the best interests of the citizens of Wake County and the state," he added. "The special review committee should not be a vehicle for delay."
WakeMed officials spent eight months working with investment bankers, lawyers, industry consultants and others to determine how much to offer for Rex, said spokeswoman Debbie Laughery. And WakeMed would not have made such a specific offer if it couldn't afford the price, she added.
Roper declined to comment on whether UNC Health might accept a higher price, except to say that Rex isn't for sale.
"Taking Rex out of UNC would not be in the interest of the state," Roper said, adding that selling assets such as Rex would only be a short-term solution for North Carolina's cash crunch.
"The state is short a couple of billion of dollars," he said. "If there were a painless, easy way of selling some assets to cover some or all of that, sure, we would be for that. But Rex is an integral part of the future of the UNC Health system."
The stance is similar to a prepared statement from Ross last week. He said that Rex is a key part of UNC Health mission to serve patients across the state, conduct cutting-edge research and educate the next generation of doctors.