Officials with Missoula Community Medical Center announced on Tuesday that their board of directors has signed an asset purchase agreement between Community and Billings Clinic Regional Care Hospital Partners for $67.4 million. 

Community CEO Steve Carlson said the agreement is the next step in carrying through with the original agreement announced this spring.

"What we announced in March was our letter of intent that outlined in broad brush strokes the essence of our agreement," Carlson said. "Since then we've negotiated, and now completed the asset purchase agreement, and that was formally submitted to the Attorney General's office for their review and approval."

Carlson explained the reasons why the Attorney General must issue his stamp of approval for the sale.

"He'll be looking at it relative to fair-market value," Carlson said. "Looking at the overall general performance of the hospital, and making sure that relative to other sales of similar size, that the sale price and other terms are indeed market based."

John Barnes, spokesman for Attorney General Tim Fox, outlined some of the points their office will be looking into regarding the sale to BillingsClinic.

"The Montana Attorney General's office protects charitable assets in Montana," Barnes said. "When you have a situation in which a non-profit entity such as Community Medical Center proposes a transaction with a for-profit entity, it's up to the Attorney General's office to make sure that the charitable assets are taken care of according to state law."

Barnes said there are several areas his office will be investigating regarding the sale.

"Did the board of directors at Community Medical Center act in good faith? We're going to look at that," Barnes said. "What circumstances led Community Medical Center to propose a sale? We'll look at that, as well. Did the directors fully perform all their fiduciary duties to the non-profit organization? And, we'll look at the sale price. We've already hired a valuation expert out of St. Louis, Missouri, to complete an independent valuation of the charitable assets, and once that is done, we'll post it on our website."

Barnes said the target date for completing their investigation into the sale will be the first of the year.

"We're going to use all the time it takes to do a thorough job in looking at this transaction, Barnes said. "We'll also eventually be taking public comment on our website, as well, so that people in the Missoula area can ask questions and voice their concerns."

Missoula County is also looking into the relationship between Community Medical Center and the county. Chief Civil Deputy with the Missoula County Attorney's Office Marnie McClain said her office is looking at their entire history over the years and examining all the aspects of that relationship.

Community Medical Center CEO Steve Carlson said he and his staff are pleased that the agreement has been signed.

"We're absolutely convinced that this agreement takes Community Medical Center to the next level in providing excellent care, and we look forward to serving this community for years to come."

Community Medical Center CEO Steve Carlson

Attorney General Spokesman John Barnes