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PhyCor offers $8-billion for MedPartners

PhyCor Inc., a Nashville physician management company, offered $8-billion in stock and debt to buy its much larger competitor, MedPartners Inc. of Birmingham, Ala.

The new company would have contracts with about 5 percent of the country's 600,000 physicians and revenues of $8.4-billion.

In Pinellas County, one of the few markets where PhyCor and MedPartners both have holdings, the combined company would be affiliated with about 12 percent of the county's 1,800 physicians. PhyCor would also own a 43-doctor radiology practice in Tampa.

Even though the deal would create the nation's largest physician practice management company, the acquisition is not expected to be blocked by antitrust regulators.

"That just isn't big enough to raise antitrust concerns, unless there are a limited number of large practices in the area," said Edward Hirshfeld, vice president for health law with the American Medical Association. "And that's probably not the case in Tampa Bay."

PhyCor's stock closed down $5.56\ at $24 per share Thursday. MedPartners' shares closed at $25.75, down 68} cents.

PhyCor signed an agreement in February to manage the St. Petersburg Medical Clinic and Suncoast Medical Clinic, both in southern St. Petersburg. The two facilities have 93 doctors representing 23 specialties. Nationwide, PhyCor operates 53 clinics with 3,780 physicians and manages 17,800 physicians' practices.

MedPartners has managed Diagnostic Clinic, based in Largo, since May 1996. The clinic has 95 doctors in 25 specialties. MedPartners acquired Sheer Ahearn and Associates, a Tampa radiology practice, in December. The 43-member practice provides services at hospitals and imaging centers in Florida, as well as Mississippi and Alabama.

MedPartners has affiliates with 13,342 doctors nationwide.

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