Letters offer new details in Sanford, Fairview merger plans

The nonbinding letter says headquarters of the combined company will be in Sioux Falls

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison convenes the first of several meetings on the merger proposal by Fairview Health Services and Sanford Health on Jan. 10, 2023, in St. Paul.
Michelle Wiley / MPR News

ST. PAUL — Newly released documents sent to Minnesota lawmakers from South Dakota-based Sanford Health and Fairview Health Services shine more light into the proposed merger between the two companies. The combined company would be known as Sanford and have corporate headquarters in Sioux Falls, though they will maintain a “material corporate presence” in the Twin Cities.

The non-binding letter of intent, signed in early September, details how the combined organization would be governed and branded, as well as some financial aspects of the deal.

It includes a promised $500 million capital investment from the combined system into Minnesota’s hospitals and facilities currently served by Fairview. The documents do not provide any other financial details about the proposed deal.

A separate letter, dated Monday, Feb. 13, addresses issues that came up in the merger’s first legislative hearing. For example, it states that the combined system would honor the current partnership between Fairview and the University of Minnesota, which is slated to go through 2026.

“[A]s a combined system we will be well positioned to reinvest in and strengthen local hospitals and the communities we serve across the state,” the letter said.


The letter also states that Fairview facilities would be able to keep their names “consistent with the best interest of the organization’s business objectives.”

News of these documents comes just days after the companies announced that they would move their self-imposed deadline to merge two months forward, to the end of May, after urging from lawmakers, union leaders and the Minnesota attorney general.

In the letter to lawmakers, the organizations noted that businessman and philanthropist Denny Sanford, who they say has given $1.5 billion to Sanford since 2004, has “declared his legacy giving intentions that Sanford Health will be the primary beneficiary of his estate.”

“Post-close, the benefit of Mr. Sanford’s generosity will extend to more Minnesota communities and patients, including those in legacy Fairview’s service area,” the letter said.

Parts of the current agreement are designed to align with promises made to Sanford “in recognition of his current and intended future philanthropic support,” according to the letter.

Those include remaining a not-for-profit entity “domiciled in North or South Dakota” and maintaining a material portion of clinical and medical research at Sanford’s Sioux Falls location.

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