Apria Calls Off Vitas Acquisition Plans

Times Staff and Wire Reports

Apria Healthcare Group Inc. said it is calling off plans to acquire Miami-based hospice operator Vitas Healthcare Corp. after concluding that the deal would be a drain on Apria's earnings next year. The Costa Mesa company, which announced the acquisition plans June 6, originally touted the $212-million transaction as a way to expand beyond its home-care business into care for the terminally ill. But after Apria's stock tumbled 37% to $19.375 a share on the New York Stock Exchange in the months following the announcement, the company last week indicated that it wanted to drop the deal. Analysts disappointed with the financial performance of both companies had indicated they were pleased last week when Apria said that the deal was falling apart. Apria said the acquisition proposal included a provision for calling off the deal with privately held Vitas, but a Vitas spokesman said the company is reviewing its options and hasn't ruled out a lawsuit. Apria shares gained 75 cents to close at $21.50 on the NYSE.

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