(Bloomberg) -- Brookdale Senior Living Inc., one of the biggest operators of senior-living communities in the US, is exploring options including a potential sale, according to people familiar with the matter. The stock gained as much as 29%

The Brentwood, Tennessee-based company is working with financial advisers to scope out potential buyers, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. No final decision has been made and Brookdale could remain independent. 

A representative for Brookdale declined to comment. 

Brookdale rose 27% to $5.08 at 11:26 a.m. in New York trading Friday, giving the company a market value of about $949 million. 

Brookdale operated 674 senior-living communities in 41 states as of the end of June, getting the bulk of its resident-fee revenue from private payers, rather than the government. 

Last year, it sold 80% of its health-care services segment to affiliates of HCA Healthcare Inc. 

Occupancy rates at senior living homes across the country slumped during during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, hitting a record low in early 2021, according to data from The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care. Brookdale expects demand for its services to increase as the US population gets older, according to its most recent annual report. 

Brookdale has been a target of activist investors. Jonathan Litt argued in 2018 the company should split itself into a real estate investment trust and senior-housing operator to unlock value. That same year, Macquarie Investment Management Ltd. also argued for Brookdale to consider selling its real estate or the whole company. 

Also in 2018, Brookdale rejected a conditional indication of interest to sell the company for as much as $11 a share.

(Updates trading in first and fourth paragraphs.)

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