Sanford Health, Fairview Health Services delay merger again


Sanford Health and Fairview Health Services will delay the closing of their proposed merger for a second time, the nonprofit health systems said Monday.

The proposed $14 billion deal, first announced in November 2022, was initially slated to close on March 31, pending regulatory approval. Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Sanford and Minneapolis-based Fairview agreed in February to postpone the closing date until May 31 to give Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) more time to evaluate the merger.

Sanford and Fairview said Monday that they will delay finalizing the transaction until after May 31. The health systems will provide the attorney general’s office a 90-day notice prior to the expected completion date, setting up a summertime close at the earliest.

“We respect the thorough review underway by the attorney general’s office and are honoring their request for more time as we continue to work towards finalizing our combination,” Sanford and Fairview said in a joint statement.

A spokesperson from the attorney general’s office said Monday it did not request another postponement and that Fairview and Sanford told Ellison’s office last week they were no longer going to close the deal in May.

After learning about the latest delay, the attorney general’s office requested a 90-day notice, the spokesperson said.

“The attorney general’s office learned last week that Fairview leadership has decided to postpone its plans to merge with Sanford. Although we are still learning the details of Fairview’s plans, we agree that it is imperative for Fairview leadership to focus their attention on the critical issues facing the health system—including its declining financial condition and its relationship with the University of Minnesota,” the spokesperson said. Fairview reported a $132.6 million operating loss in 2021, the latest annual financial data available.

In response, a Sanford spokesperson said, “Ellison has noted publicly on numerous occasions that he desired more time, and we are glad to provide it in the interest of ongoing cooperation. The attorney general requested 90 days’ notice of any future closing date, and we agreed to provide it.”

University of Minnesota administrators are concerned about an out-of-state entity controlling the M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis, which Fairview acquired 26 years ago via an agreement lasting through 2026.

The university announced plans in January to purchase University Medical Center East and West Bank facilities, Masonic Children’s Hospital, affiliated clinics and a surgery center, which are all part of the M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center campus.

Sanford and Fairview Health planned to join forces a decade ago, but the merger fell through amid pushback from then-Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson (D).


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