Chesterfield-based Mercy Health has signed a “nonbinding letter of intent” to transfer ownership of its hospital and physician clinic in Hot Springs, Ark., to nonprofit Catholic Health Initiatives and its affiliate in Little Rock, Ark. The organizations indicated they plan to negotiate the terms of an agreement with the goal of completing the transaction by Dec. 31. Mercy Hospital Hot Springs is a 282-bed acute care hospital. Its affiliated clinic has 80 physicians. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission staff indicated that it would oppose Mercy’s plan to sell its Hot Springs hospital to for-profit Capella Healthcare because of antitrust concerns. At that point, Mercy abandoned those plans. The transfer will require approvals from the boards of Mercy, St. Vincent Health System and CHI as well as antitrust approval by federal and state authorities and the blessing of Catholic Church officials.