September 29, 2005

HCA says SEC upgrades Frist stock probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Securities regulators have issued a
formal order of investigation in a probe of trading in the
shares of hospital operator HCA Inc., the company said on

On Wednesday, sources familiar with the matter said the
Securities and Exchange Commission has changed its probe of HCA
share sales by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to formal
status from informal, granting investigators subpoena power.

"The company intends to fully cooperate in this matter,"
Nashville, Tennessee-based HCA said in a statement.

An SEC spokesman declined to comment.

Authorities are looking into Frist's recent sale of shares
in HCA -- co-founded by the Tennessee Republican's father and
brother -- in transactions completed just days before HCA's
stock price fell on a disappointing July 13 profit outlook.

By granting subpoena power to investigators, the SEC was
moving to obtain telephone and brokerage records often key to
insider trading probes, lawyers said.

HCA said last week it had received a subpoena from the
federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York,
seeking documents believed to be related to the Frist matter.

Frist -- viewed widely as a potential 2008 presidential
candidate -- said on Monday he had no inside information about
the coming profit forecast when he began taking steps in April
that led to his HCA stock sale, which was completed on July 8.

The wealthy surgeon-turned-politician also said he would
cooperate with investigators. He forecast that an examination
of the facts would show he acted properly.