Care Enterprises Spurns Hazelbaker Bailout

Times Staff Writer

Care Enterprises' board of directors has determined that "it is not in the best interests" of the Tustin-based nursing home company to negotiate the sale of any of its facilities to Ralph Hazelbaker, a nursing home operator in Columbus, Ohio.

Care Enterprises announced its decision Thursday in a prepared statement apparently intended to quash repeated attempts by Hazelbaker to buy back nursing home assets that he and other investors sold to Care in 1985.

Hazelbaker has contended that such a transaction would help salvage Care, which is trying to negotiate with its bankers and bondholders a reorganization of debt to avert bankruptcy.

Hazelbaker, who is the principal owner of Paradigm Corp., said in his latest offer that he was willing to pay $66.2 million for 26 of Care's 105 skilled nursing facilities. That offer consisted of $18.7 million cash and the assumption of $47.5 million of Care's debt.

Care's prepared statement said that Hazelbaker "has no credibility with Care whatsoever, based on numerous prior experiences and negotiations."

Specifically, the company referred to litigation pending between Care and Hazelbaker over a management contract.

The company alleged that Hazelbaker, by contacting Care shareholders, lenders, bondholders and other creditors, has been "attempting to enhance his negotiating position with respect to these lawsuits by making offers which are clearly unreasonable to Care and favorable to himself."

Hazelbaker and his investment bankers, however, have said they are not trying to take unfair advantage of Care's financial predicament.

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