APRIA: Argyros Steps Down As Chair
George Argyros "resigned as chairman of troubled Apria Healthcare Group Inc. yesterday at the request of fellow board members" after disclosing that he was interested in buying the company. An Apria director, Ralph Whitworth, was named chairman. The Los Angeles Times reports that "some directors are upset about the timing of Argyros' decision, which came about two weeks after Apria's stock hit an all-time low of $8 share." In addition, Argyros, who is the largest single stockholder, "has said repeatedly that he opposed the sale of the company." One source commented, "This was a 180-degree turn. For the past six months, George has vigorously argued that this was the wrong time to sell the company because it was too cheap. Now suddenly it's the right time, as long as he's buying it." In addition to the expected offer from Argyros, Apria is also considering "a merger with Denver-based Coram Health Care Corp. or a capital infusion from an investment group."
Right The Ship
The Times reports that "Apria now faces the challenge of righting its operations at the same time that it looks for ownership stability." The company reported yesterday that it lost $6.6 million in the first quarter of 1998; "[a]nalysts had expected Apria to report a small profit" (Marsh, 4/30). The Wall Street Journal reports that "Apria blamed the loss and the drop in revenue on its discontinuation of unprofitable businesses and on cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates for oxygen services" (Rundle, 4/30).