Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Business

New Jersey firm bids $33 million to buy Universal Health Care

A New Jersey insurance company has won a bankruptcy court auction to buy Universal Health Care for $33.25 million and plans to recapitalize the troubled St. Petersburg Medicare provider.

But the deal with CarePoint Insurance faces both regulatory and legal hurdles as Florida insurance regulators move ahead with a bid to seize control of Universal. A hearing to potentially liquidate Universal and appoint the state as receiver is slated for March 21 in Tallahassee.

Attorneys representing Universal and CarePoint are trying to finalize the sale within a couple of weeks.

Harley Riedel, a Tampa attorney representing Universal in bankruptcy proceedings, said it's possible that the closing could take place in advance of the liquidation hearing. Or the state may agree to a consent order that gives Universal time to recapitalize.

"There will be discussions with the regulators," he said.

Earlier this week, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said any Universal bidder approved by the bankruptcy court would need regulatory approval. "We would expedite our review process, given the circumstances," agency spokeswoman Amy Bogner said.

Universal has nearly 1,000 employees — most of them in its St. Petersburg headquarters — who have been in limbo since regulators last month deemed the company nearly insolvent and accused executives of a broad pattern of financial mismanagement under founder and chief executive officer A.K. Desai.

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, in seeking to liquidate Universal, said the company has been victimized by fraud, forgery, embezzlement and other illegal conduct. The state has refused to disclose details of some of the allegations, however, saying the documents are protected from public disclosure as part of an ongoing investigation.

Desai could not be reached for comments.

Universal members have continued to receive coverage through their plan throughout the ordeal, but they have the option of contacting their agent to consider alternatives, state regulators have said.

Representatives of CarePoint declined to comment on their plans Friday, deferring until a formal announcement of the acquisition is released.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8242.

Comments
Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa called Wednesday for artists to send in their ideas for a big piece of public art for the outdoor plaza between one of the $3 billion project’s office buildings and the new University of South Florida Morsani College of Med...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tourism brought in record $112 billion to Florida in 2016

Tourism brought in record $112 billion to Florida in 2016

Tourism brought in a record $112 billion to Florida’s economy in 2016, up about 3 percent from 2015, according to Visit Florida figures released Wednesday. About 10 percent — $88 billion — of the state’s gross domestic product came from tourism in 20...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Apple to build 2nd campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Apple to build 2nd campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Associated PressSAN FRANCISCO — Apple is planning to build another corporate campus and hire 20,000 workers during the next five years as part of a $350 billion commitment to the U.S. that will be partially financed by an upcoming windfall from the c...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

LA SEGUNDAA Tampa Bay giant has stirred and is on the move. La Segunda Central Bakery, a family-owned Ybor City institution for nearly 103 years (they celebrated that birthday Jan. 15) and the largest producer of Cuban bread in the world, will open a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Dow Jones closes above 26,000 for first time

Dow Jones closes above 26,000 for first time

The latest on developments in financial markets (All times local):4 p.m.Stocks are closing higher on Wall Street, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to its first close above 26,000 points.The Dow had traded above that level on Tuesday but wound...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Pasco goats somehow make yoga less weird

Pasco goats somehow make yoga less weird

DADE CITY — More than 36 million Americans practice yoga, but many people still feel intimidated by the ancient method of controlling the body and mind through physical and mental practices.Perhaps it is the daunting terms or confusing poses that cau...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Behold: The fastest cars at this year’s Detroit Auto Show

Behold: The fastest cars at this year’s Detroit Auto Show

DETROIT — Despite all the hype surrounding auto shows, let’s get real for a moment: The majority of the vehicles on display will end up ferrying kids to soccer practice, embarking on road trips and commuting between work and home each day.That’s unde...
Updated: 9 hours ago
This is why clothing companies want to know about your weight, jobs and past pregnancies

This is why clothing companies want to know about your weight, jobs and past pregnancies

The first step for a shopper buying a suit at the fast-growing menswear retailer Indochino is sharing his personal information: A salesperson armed with an iPad measures nearly everything on his body, from the distance between his belly button and re...
Updated: 11 hours ago
TECO, Duke linemen to help restore power in Puerto Rico

TECO, Duke linemen to help restore power in Puerto Rico

TAMPA — As more than 1.5 million people in Puerto Rico remain powerless, local linemen are stepping up and flying out to the island to help restore electricity. On Wednesday morning, 25 linemen boarded a flight from Tampa International Airport to Pu...
Published: 01/17/18

Pasco Business Digest for Jan. 19

Updated: 9 hours ago