Operator of 2 Charleston-area hospice centers rejects Kindred buyout bid

In 2008, Gentiva Health Services bought Hospice of Charleston, which built this end-of-life care facility at 676 Wando Park Blvd. in Mount Pleasant.

An Atlanta-based company that provides hospice and home health care services throughout South Carolina is seeking to fend off a unsolicited buyout offer.

Gentiva Health Services has rejected the $533 million bid from Kindred Healthcare Inc.

Also, Gentiva's board of directors has adopted a "poison pill" strategy designed to make an unfriendly sale prohibitively expensive. It said in statement that the buyout offer "significantly undervalues Gentiva, is inadequate and is not in the best interests of the company or its shareholders."

In a letter to Gentiva's board, Louisville, Ky.-based Kindred said Tuesday that it is "disappointed" with the response but that it isn't giving up.

"Despite Gentiva's actions, we will not be deterred," said Kindred CEO Paul Diaz. "We are determined to pursue the proposed combination of Kindred and Gentiva and are committed over the long-term to achieving our objective."

Kindred runs nursing and rehabilitation centers, and provides home hospice and health services. The combined company would operate in 47 states and serve nearly 127,000 patients each day.

Gentiva has 10 home health care locations in South Carolina, including one in North Charleston. Its hospice centers in the state are in Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Greenville and Spartanburg, according to its website.

Until last year, Kindred had operated a rehabilitation hospital in the Charleston for more than a decade. Initially, it leased space in the former Charleston Memorial Hospital on the peninsula starting in 2002.

Kindred then bought and renovated the vacant former East Cooper Regional Medical Center near U.S. Highway 17 and Bowman Road in Mount Pleasant and relocated in 2012. It exited the local market last summer when it sold the 94-bed facility to Vibra Healthcare for $22.6 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.