May 1, 2014

SC business notebook, May 2

Tuomey hospital could file for bankruptcy this month; BMW reports 8.5 percent increase in U.S. sales in April; Blame economy’s bad start this year on the weather

Tuomey hospital could file for bankruptcy this month

A Sumter hospital facing a $240 million judgment against it could file for bankruptcy as soon as this month. The (Sumter) Item reported that trustees told Tuomey Healthcare System CEO Michael Schwartz on Monday he could pursue Chapter 11 bankruptcy if needed. A jury ruled last year Tuomey made more than 21,000 false Medicare claims from 2005 to 2009. The hospital was ordered to pay almost $240 million in reimbursement and fines. A South Carolina federal judge has ruled Tuomey must set aside $70 million to continue its appeal. Tuomey is appealing the ruling, saying it would have to close if it had to pay the full amount. The hospital has also asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lower the amount it must keep in reserves.

BMW reports 8.5 percent increase in U.S. sales in April

BMW Group reported Thursday an 8.5 percent jump in sales of its BMW brand vehicles in the United States in April, thanks to a strong showroom performance by its X vehicles assembled in the Upstate. The German automaker said U.S. dealers sold 3,544 X3s last month, up 85.2 percent from the previous year. Sales of the X5 were up 27.6 percent to 4,493 units, the company said. In all, dealers sold 25,202 BMW brand vehicles and 4,390 MINIs in April, up 2 percent from year-ago numbers. BMW remains in a tight battle with Mercedes-Benz for U.S. customers. Mercedes said Thursday its U.S. dealers sold 25,887 branded vehicles during April, up 9.5 percent, and 98,501 year-to-date. Volkswagen’s Audi brand, another BMW rival in the premium segment, said its April sales totaled 15,653 vehicles.

Blame economy’s bad start this year on the weather

The U.S. economy is emerging from hibernation after a bleak winter. Consumers are ramping up spending, businesses are ordering more goods and manufacturers are expanding. The strengthening numbers show that harsh snowstorms and frigid cold in January and February were largely to blame for the economy’s scant growth at the start of the year. Growth appears to be picking up as the weather improves, and economists think the government on Friday will report a solid hiring gain in April exceeding 200,000 jobs. One drag on the economy appears to be the faltering housing recovery. Home building and renovation declined in the January-March quarter, and builders started work on fewer homes in March than they did a year earlier. Still, auto sales jumped 8.5 percent in April compared with the same month a year ago. Overall consumer spending soared 0.9 percent in March, the government said Thursday.

The Associated Press and The Greenville News contributed.

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