Thanks a billion public shareholders!

That is what the financial acrobats behind the buyout of HCA will not be saying as they cash in a cool $1.75 billion dividend from the company they have taken 'private' only a few years ago. As we continuously argue, there should be a big 'Seller beware!' sign attached to any buyout offer that speculative funds and their collaborators in management make to public shareholders. The trustees of the public shareholders - the major investment institutions - should be held to a very high standard of care when considering any bid, including takeover bids from competing businesses. The valuation and decision process in merger/takeover situations is deeply flawed and tends to short-change the sellers. That employees and clients are also often worse off (layoffs where the burden falls on the tax-payer due to rising costs of unemployment benefits, diminished competition due to increasing concentration) should also be mentioned. It is also instructive to re-read the warning that was issued by law professors at the time of the buy-out in 2006.

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