Highmark blocks West Penn from other buyers

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Pittsburgh's Highmark has won a victory in its on-again, off-again $475 million acquisition of West Penn Allegheny Health System after a state court ruled that WPAHS couldn't seek other potential buyers.

Although the acquisition agreement required the failing hospital system to provide Highmark with 30 days notice of any perceived breach, "WPAHS made the unilateral decision that Highmark's anticipatory breach was incurable," Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Christine Ward said in her ruling issued Friday, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

She added that the injunction, which Highmark sought after WPAHS accused Highmark of breaking their deal by demanding it declare bankruptcy, was necessary to avoid "irreparable harm that cannot be assigned a dollar amount" to Highmark.

And only three days after the ruling, Highmark and WPAHS executives met to discuss acquisition plans, including how to address the hospital system's financial problems and how to obtain state approval of the deal, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported.

"Both parties realize there are significant issues that must be addressed and that prompt action is essential," the companies said in a joint statement. Highmark and WPAHS execs said they're discussing how to best improve WPAHS finances by, for example, recruiting and retaining employed physicians, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

To learn more:
- read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article
- see the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article
- check out the Pittsburgh Business Times article

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