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Pebblebrook's persistence pays off; Columbia Property considers company sale

S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of U.S. real estate news stories and more published throughout the week. Please note that some entries may have links to third-party sources that may require a subscription.

A lesson in persistence

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust's dogged pursuit of LaSalle Hotel Properties finally paid off as LaSalle Hotel moved to cancel a planned buyout by Blackstone Group LP after declaring Pebblebrook's unsolicited merger proposal to be the superior offer. One day after announcing its plan, LaSalle Hotel agreed to be acquired by fellow hotel real estate investment trust Pebblebrook.

Blackstone had four days to amend its offer under the terms of its agreement, but the private equity giant waived the option. The Pebblebrook-LaSalle transaction amounts to about $5.2 billion, with the combined entity to be the second-largest lodging REIT by equity market capitalization.

Weighing options

* Office REIT Columbia Property Trust Inc. is considering a sale of the company, people with knowledge of the matter told The Wall Street Journal, adding that the REIT received an offer earlier in the year and has since solicited other interested parties. Bloomberg News, also citing sources familiar with the matter, reported that Columbia Property hired Morgan Stanley as its adviser.

* Nontraded healthcare REIT CNL Healthcare Properties II Inc.'s board formed a special committee of independent directors to review strategic alternatives, including a potential merger, due to what CEO and President Stephen Mauldin said was a "challenged" environment for brokers/dealers and nontraded REIT formats.

Foreign deals

* Alabama-based REIT Medical Properties Trust Inc. completed the sale of a 50% stake in its portfolio of 71 hospitals in Germany for total proceeds of €1.14 billion, including its portion of secured debt. The stake was sold to France's Primonial Group. The deal, struck in June, valued the portfolio at about €1.63 billion.

* Timber REIT CatchMark Timber Trust Inc. is evaluating a potential offer to acquire Phaunos Timber Fund Ltd. in a stock-for-stock deal that would result in a combined company with an enterprise value of $1.3 billion. The offer values the target at 57 cents per share and rivals Stafford Capital Partners Ltd.'s earlier offer of about 49 cents per share.

Phaunos Timber owns a portfolio of premium timberland assets in New Zealand and the Americas.

In transition

Diversified REIT Lexington Realty Trust sold a 21-strong office portfolio to an 80/20 joint venture between affiliates of Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP and the company for $726 million. The sale is part of the REIT's transition to a pure-play single-tenant industrial landlord.

Spinning out

Canadian retailer Loblaw Cos. Ltd. plans to spin out its 61.6% stake in Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust as part of a reorganization plan. As a result, George Weston Ltd., which currently holds a 3.8% direct stake in the retail REIT, will end up owning a 65.4% stake and replace Loblaw as the major shareholder. Loblaw will still remain the REIT's largest tenant, and all other existing arrangements will remain intact after the spinout.

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