NASHVILLE – Nashville’s top industry should be “cautiously optimistic” that bank capital is available in today’s economic environment, according to a panel of health care lenders gathered today at a Nashville Health Care Council breakfast to address The State of Health Care Industry Lending.
Panelists told more than 200 of Nashville’s health care industry leaders that though pricing is higher now than two years ago, deals are getting done. They also agreed that the economic climate has led to a “return to basics from a banking standpoint” where solid management teams and business plans factor highly in lending decisions.
“Banks are still open for business and health care is an industry banks look at, in terms of stability,” said panel moderator David G. Anderson, senior vice president, finance and treasurer for HCA. “As long as the balance sheet is strong, banks are perfectly willing to structure credits.”
Kevin P. Lavender, senior vice president and managing director for Fifth Third Bank, noted that banks are counting on their health care investments to help drive overall growth.
“Health care is a driving factor for every one of our banks, and banks are counting on itto help the bottom line,” Lavender said. “Commitment levels are lower, pricing levels are higher, but we still have the ability and the desire to lend money. The winners are those with strong balance sheets, strong cash flow and a strong management team.”
Pointing to opportunities in select health care sectors due to the federal stimulus package, including additional Medicaid funding and $36 billion dedicated to health care information technology, Kirk Porter, senior vice president, Bank of America, said, “Just because there’s change doesn’t mean it’s all negative. We clearly have the desire to lend, and the plan for this year is to do more of that.”
At the event, Porter and Lavender joined fellow panelists Kenneth Berberich, executive vice president and manager, First Tennessee Bank; and Craig Gardella, senior vice president, Regions Bank.
Council President Caroline Young said, “We are pleased to host this timely discussion with health industry lenders as the Council continues to provide valuable tools to support Nashville’s premier health care community.”
The Nashville Health Care Council is an association of health care industry leaders working together to further establish Nashville’s position as the nation’s health care industry capital. For more information, please visit www.healthcarecouncil.com.