The Malta Independent 24 April 2019, Wednesday

VGH-Steward Health Care financial discussions ‘still ongoing’

Sunday, 24 December 2017, 09:45 Last update: about 2 years ago

Discussions between VGH Global Healthcare (VGH) and Steward Health Care on the financial aspects of the takeover of VGH' concession to run three of Malta's hospitals are still ongoing, a VGH's spokesperson has informed this newspaper, despite the fact that the government has presented the handover as a done deal.

VGH was questioned about the price of the sale of the concession, but the company was unable to provide a figure since the deal is apparently still being struck.

The spokesperson added: "Throughout the past months, VGH has continued its work to provide high quality patient care across Malta and Gozo and to provide the infrastructural framework established in the Public-Private Partnership agreement.

"The company has always been open to strategic investment and partnership and has held discussions with different players over the past months, including Steward.

"Having both Steward, and Partners Healthcare show interest in a project like this is encouraging and endorses the work carried out over the past months."

It was announced on Thursday that VGH, the company that was entrusted with the provision of healthcare services through the Gozo, Karin Grech and St Luke's hospitals, has sold its concession to an American company called Steward Healthcare System.

VGH sold the concession only 21 months after securing a deal with the Maltese government. The Ministry of Health, it seems, does not know whether VGH made money from this deal.

When speaking to journalists at a press briefing on Thursday, Health Minister Chris Fearne said that the government is satisfied with this new deal. He insisted that he does not know how much money the concession sold for and added that this is a deal between two private entities.

He made assurances, however, that the government will not be paying an extra cent because of this new deal.

The transfer agreement between VGH and Steward Health Care System was signed on Wednesday and, as Minister Chris Fearne explained, VGH had every right to sell because provision had been made for the possibility of such an event in the contract.

He explained that the contract VGH signed with the government included a clause allowing for the company to be bought out. If such agreement for sale fell within the first five years, the government had to give the green light. The VGH agreement lasted less than two years.

"When we were notified of this take over, we saw that Steward Health Care System is a reputable company which owns hospitals all over the United States. It employs 37,000 people and the government knows that it can be trusted," Fearne added.

Over the last 21 months, VGH had received over €40 million from the government in salaries, medicines and other things, the Minister added. This new company, which is said to be the biggest health care service-provider in the United States, will take over all VGH's assets and liabilities.

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