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Pebblebrook steadfast in LaSalle pursuit; new buyer emerges for Plaza Hotel

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.

Digging in

* Pebblebrook Hotel Trust Chairman, President and CEO Jon Bortz said his company will not abandon its pursuit of LaSalle Hotel Properties until it is successful or until Blackstone Group LP is forced to raise its already-accepted offer. Bortz also said LaSalle executives' rejection of his company's offer is in part because of a personal aversion to dealing with him.

For Blackstone to complete the acquisition, approval is required from holders of two-thirds of LaSalle shares. Pebblebrook itself owns about 9.8% of LaSalle's shares. Hedge fund HG Vora Capital Management LLC, which owned about 9.1% of LaSalle's shares as of June 12, has expressed its preference for the Pebblebrook offer. LaSalle shareholder Mudrick Capital Management LP also issued a letter to the hotel REIT's board arguing in favor of Pebblebrook's offer.

Surprise turn

* The latest twist in the long-running sales process for the Plaza Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, N.Y., saw Qatar's state-owned Katara Holding strike a deal to acquire the asset for about US$600 million, according to reports from Reuters and The Wall Street Journal, both citing unnamed sources.

Minority shareholders Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. and Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal's Kingdom Holding Co. were earlier reported to be bidding for the asset, matching a US$600 million offer from Shahal Khan, founder of White City Ventures and the Chimera Group, and Kamran Hakim of the Hakim Organization.

Great White North

* Minto Apartment Real Estate Investment Trust raised gross proceeds of about C$200.0 million from its IPO of 13,794,000 trust units, priced at C$14.50 apiece. Full exercise of the underwriters' 30-day option to acquire up to 2,069,100 additional units could boost the gross proceeds to C$230 million.

The net proceeds from the offering were used to buy an initial portfolio of multiresidential rental assets in Canada from Minto Properties Inc.

* Alternative investment manager Alignvest Management Corp. launched an open-ended REIT, Alignvest Student Housing Real Estate Investment Trust, that will target purpose-built student accommodation assets in Canada. The new REIT has more than C$65 million in initial capital commitments, as well as access to significant additional capital from Alignvest Management.

The unincorporated REIT is making its first purchase in Waterloo, Ontario, with a 455-bed asset near the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Foreign ambitions

The week saw a number of U.S.-based real estate companies involved in overseas deals in Europe and South America.

* W. P. Carey Inc., in its maiden deal in Denmark, acquired a portfolio of 14 logistics properties and a corporate headquarters for 1.2 billion Danish kroner.

* Gramercy Property Trust's Gramercy Europe bought seven logistics properties in France for €175 million.

* Data center REIT Digital Realty Trust Inc. was reported to be in talks to buy Brazilian data center operator Ascenty Ltda., which is valued at more than $1 billion, according to Bloomberg News, citing people familiar with the matter.

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