Fresenius to cut some jobs after Rhoen hospital buy

FRANKFURT, March 1 Sat Mar 1, 2014 10:01am EST

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FRANKFURT, March 1 (Reuters) - The hospital division of the diversified German healthcare group Fresenius plans to cut a small number of jobs after purchasing around 38 hospitals from Rhoen-Klinikum for 3.07 billion euros, the division chief was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Francesco De Meo, head of the Helios hospital division at Fresenius, said there were too many hospitals in Germany, according to the summary of an article to be published on Sunday in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

"We want to cooperate more strongly regionally than perhaps was the case with Rhoen," de Meo was quoted as saying. The job cuts would take place over time on a small scale, primarily in administration, he said.

"We need to sort this out ... keeping quality in mind. The bad (hospitals) need to be closed, not the good," he said.

Fresenius cemented its position as Germany's largest private-sector hospital operator with the Rhoen purchase, which was approved by German competition authorities this week.

Fresenius began scooping up hospital chains starting in 2005 with the purchase of Helios Kliniken GmbH.

Private operators in Germany have also grown by taking over underfunded public-sector hospitals from debt-laden municipalities, upgrading their equipment and looking to run them more efficiently.

But political opposition to hospital privatisation has been strong, prompting many municipalities to delay sales as long as possible. (Reporting by Thomas Atkins; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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