HCA shareholders voted overwhelmingly to take the hospital chain private today in an 11-minute meeting at the company’s Nashville headquarters.
About 75 people, almost all HCA employees, gathered to hear results from the voting that has been ongoing for the last month. Nearly 73 percent of the votes – one for each of the company’s 388 million shares – were in favor of the buyout. Valued at 33 billion, the leveraged buyout would be the largest in U-S history.
No votes were actually cast during today’s meeting. Most were cast by phone or online. But 80 year old Nashville resident John Smith and his wife Jane, who own just 100 shares of HCA stock, said they wanted to see the action for themselves. Smith approved of the $51 a share he’ll get when a group of private investors takes over.
“We voted for the buyout. It appears to be a fair price. It’s close to what the value of the stock is at the present time.”
Last month, a group of shareholders sued HCA, claiming that they weren’t getting enough under the deal. A Nashville judge, however, ruled not to delay the vote because the plaintiffs didn’t prove $51 per share was unfair. The suit was settled last week.
HCA officials say the buyout could close by the end of the week. HCA is the country’s largest for-profit hospital chain.