July 1, 2014 / 2:01 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Kindred urges Gentiva shareholders to vote for its offer

(Adds details, background, share movement)

July 1 (Reuters) - Kindred Healthcare Inc pushed on with its hostile bid for Gentiva Health Services Inc, urging shareholders to ignore the home healthcare provider’s board and vote for its $1.7 billion offer by July 16.

Gentiva rejected Kindred’s raised offer of $14.50 per share on Monday, saying it significantly undervalued the company.

Kindred is looking to acquire 14.9 percent of Gentiva’s shares, making it the largest shareholder, but Gentiva had adopted a “poison pill” with a trigger of 15 percent.

Gentiva, which believes it could generate more value as a standalone company, first rejected Kindred’s offer in May.

Kindred’s offer, which includes debt, is the latest in a string of healthcare deals and unsolicited offers, already making 2014 the busiest year for acquisitions in the sector.

On Friday, Kindred wrote to Gentiva, citing “reports in the marketplace” expressing its apprehension that Gentiva may be courting its peer Amedisys Inc while refusing to discuss Kindred’s offer.

Hospitals and home healthcare service providers in the United States have been struggling with federal budget cuts and changes in Medicare reimbursement rates.

Shares of Kindred were little changed at $23.02, while Gentiva was trading flat at $15.12 in early trading on the Nasdaq. (Reporting by Shailesh Kuber; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Don Sebastian)

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