Miami-based Vitas Healthcare Corp., the nation's largest hospice provider, plans an initial public offering valued as high as $69.9 million.
Speculation over whether Vitas would go public or sell to another company heightened after Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Apria Healthcare Group called off its planned $212 million merger with Vitas last year. Apria paid Vitas $4 million to settle a dispute over the termination.
Vitas said it now plans to sell 3.8 million shares, representing about half its total outstanding shares, at a price of $14 to $16 per share, according to a Sept. 23 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company also will offer its underwriters the option to purchase another 570,000 shares at the same price, the filing said.
After the offering, Vitas will have a total of 7.8 million shares outstanding, giving it a market value of $109.2 million to $124.8 million. Previously, there had been no public market for Vitas common stock. Vitas said it has applied for a listing on the NASDAQ exchange.
Hugh Westbrook, Vitas' founder and chief executive officer, will be its top shareholder after the offering with control over 19.9% of the company's shares.
Vitas plans to use the proceeds to redeem certain preferred and common stock options, to repay debt and to fund acquisitions. It served more than 31,000 patients in fiscal 1996 and generated revenues of $214 million.