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Abbey Healthcare Pursues Bid to Acquire Competitor

April 16, 1993|CHRIS WOODYARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

COSTA MESA — Abbey Healthcare Group Inc., a maker of at-home health-care products, said Thursday that its financial advisers remain in contact with competitor Lifetime Corp. about a possible acquisition.

But Abbey, based in Costa Mesa, has no imminent plans to act on Lifetime's announcement Monday that its board is "actively pursuing" its sale to another company. "Abbey currently has no proposals on the table," spokesman Stanley Kay said.

Lifetime, based in Boston, specializes in nursing and other at-home care. The company reiterated in a statement Thursday that it is seeking potential buyers. As part of that process, it said, it is "communicating directly" with Abbey, which on April 7 dropped an offer of $261 million, or $27.50 a share, for Lifetime.

In Thursday's trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Lifetime closed at $27 a share, up $2.125. Abbey closed at $17.75, up 12.5 cents, in NASDAQ trading.

When Abbey withdrew its offer, Chairman Timothy M. Aitkin said that Lifetime Chairman Anthony M. Reeves and the company's board "rebuffed or ignored our attempts to negotiate a business combination with Abbey, Lifetime's most logical strategic buyer." Reeves, however, said he did not consider Abbey's offer adequate.

Aitkin said he would launch a proxy fight at Lifetime's annual meeting May 19 to take control of the board and oust Reeves. Abbey, he said, would back Leonard Green, a Nashville, Tenn., investor, for chairman.

"Our proxy situation remains out there, and we will proceed with that carefully with an eye toward future developments," Kay said Thursday.

Lifetime, meanwhile, said it will postpone the annual meeting while it keeps looking for a buyer.

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