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Published April 30, 2012, 10:24 AM

Sanford, Medcenter move closer to possible merger

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Two large health care providers in the Dakotas have taken another step toward a possible merger.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Two large health care providers in the Dakotas have taken another step toward a possible merger.

Medcenter One and Sanford Health announced Monday that they have signed a letter of intent and a memorandum of understanding and are moving forward with discussions. Both agreements are non-binding, but the organizations are sharing financial, legal and business information and preparing regulatory filings with the North Dakota attorney general's office and the Federal Trade Commission.

Medcenter is based in the North Dakota capital of Bismarck. Sanford is headquartered in Fargo, N.D., and Sioux Falls, S.D. Officials confirmed early this year that they had started exploratory talks.

"We are excited about the opportunities of what we could do together," Sanford President and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft said.

If a merger happens, it would be the biggest for Sanford since then-Sioux Falls-based company combined with Fargo-based Meritcare in 2009, creating the new Sanford Health that has a presence in more than 100 communities in eight states.

"Together, as one of the largest healthcare providers in the Midwest and in the country, the organizations would have an even greater voice on the national level in order to help shape the future of health care delivery for the people of the Midwest," said Medcenter President and CEO Craig Lambrecht.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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