Columbia Hospital Corp., a for-profit Texas company, says it plans to purchase Miami's failing St. Francis Hospital and assume its $47 million of tax-exempt debt, betting the Internal Revenue Service will not deem the bonds taxable as a result.

Columbia, with net income of $7 million for the first six months of 1991, is a darling of the health-casre analysts community, and St. Francis bondholders -- who watched the facility lose $17 million last year -- are cheered by news that a situation headed for default appears to have a good shot at recovery.

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