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ORANGE COUNTY BRIEFLY

Blum Investment Group Fattens Its Stake in Apria

August 11, 1998| Bloomberg News

Investor Richard C. Blum and his affiliates raised their stake in Apria Healthcare Group Inc. to 9.9%, making them the second-largest shareholder in the money-losing provider of home health care services.

Richard C. Blum & Associates LP boosted its holdings in Apria to 5.12 million shares, according to a regulatory filing. That makes Blum the No. 2 investor in Apria after Chairman Ralph Whitworth's Relational Advisors LLC, which holds 5.14 million shares.

Blum, the husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), started buying Apria shares in June after the Costa Mesa-based company hired a new chief executive, who has vowed to fire hundreds of employees as part of a cost-cutting program that he expects will make the company profitable by the middle of next year. Apria lost $270 million in 1997 as the government and health insurers cut fees they're willing to pay for oxygen, intravenous supplies and other equipment that Apria provides.

"We're delighted to see them increase their position," Whitworth said. "They're the exact kind of holder that we like to see in the stock. They're smart and constructive."

Blum & Associates officials weren't immediately available to comment.

Apria shares fell 19 cents Monday to $5.63.

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