Struggling Tenet ( THC) seeks salvation in a hedge fund named after the mythological beast that guards the gates of hell. Correspondence obtained by TheStreet.com indicates that the cash-strapped hospital chain hopes to sell some of its ailing Los Angeles hospitals to the venture capital firm Cerberus Capital Management. New York-based Cerberus is a so-called vulture investor known for its acumen in picking up troubled assets on the cheap. The push comes as Tenet, hit by a string of quarterly losses and continuing negative cash flow, seeks to trim its hospital group by more than a quarter and return to profitability in 2006. Though the sides haven't reached a deal, any interest on the part of Cerberus could come as welcome news to Tenet, whose efforts to divest itself of some 27 hospitals have been moving slowly. Even so, some observers are already lashing out at the prospect of a Cerberus purchase. Analysts doubt thrifty Cerberus will pay what Tenet wants for the properties, leaving the hospital operator short of its goal of raising $600 million in proceeds. Moreover, some Tenet critics fear that some potential buyers are interested more in the underlying real estate than in the hospitals themselves -- a focus they say could serve to undermine services in hard-hit communities. "They've got the money" at Cerberus to buy the hospitals, says Jeff Villwock, an analyst for Caymus Partners. Villwock has followed Tenet for years on behalf of the Tenet Shareholder Committee, a group of former hospital execs and investors who four years ago waged a losing proxy battle for control of the company's board. "But do they have the hospital operators?" Cerberus did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story. But Tenet said the company remains focused on transferring the hospitals to "qualified" buyers.