Embattled ARV Assisted Living Inc. said Friday that its chairman and chief executive, Howard G. Phanstiel, has resigned. The move comes as the Costa Mesa company is negotiating to end a year-old dispute with its biggest investor, an affiliate of the Lazard Freres & Co. investment house.
Phanstiel, who also stepped down from ARV's board of directors, was the target of a lawsuit filed in December by another Lazard Freres affiliate seeking to invalidate his reelection to the ARV board last June.
Under Phanstiel, ARV filed suits against Lazard Freres Real Estate Investors, which holds a 48% stake in the company, and adopted a so-called poison pill plan aimed at preventing a takeover by Lazard.
The two companies have been duking it out since Lazard made a bid for a California-based competitor of ARV last April. ARV filed an unsuccessful suit to block that deal.
Douglas M. Pasquale, ARV's president, chief operating officer and a member of its board, will assume the CEO post. Pasquale, 44, has been ARV's president and chief operating officer since June 1998; he was elected to the board in October. He came to ARV from Richfield Hospitality Services Inc.
ARV is one of the country's largest developers and operators of assisted living housing for the elderly. While its holdings and revenues have swelled in recent years, it has entered a string of losses on its books--more than $43 million since 1995, including a $5.6-million deficit for its third quarter ended Sept. 30, 1998.
ARV released news of Phanstiel's resignation after the stock markets closed Friday. The company's shares gained 13 cents, to $4.13, in American Stock Exchange trading.
The company's stock has fallen about 70% in the last year as investors grew concerned about its fight with Lazard and about overall prospects for growth in the assisted living market.