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Pebblebrook only has eyes for LaSalle, CEO says

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust is putting property purchases on hold until its so-far-unsuccessful pursuit of a merger with fellow real estate investment trust LaSalle Hotel Properties is resolved, the company's chief executive said.

"I would say, for now and for the foreseeable future, until there's a resolution, we'll be ... solely and hyper-focused on trying to put these two companies together, which makes so much sense," Pebblebrook Chairman, President and CEO Jon Bortz said on an earnings conference call, when asked about the company's plans for property acquisitions in the near future.

Later on the call, he added: "We're really not focused on other acquisitions at this point. It's really hard to pursue other acquisitions and plan out your financials with a potential $5 billion combination up in the air. So for us, we're very comfortable waiting because of the benefits of being successful there, if we ultimately can be."

LaSalle has repeatedly rejected Pebblebrook's stock-and-cash offers, and accepted an approximately $4.8 billion all-cash offer from Blackstone Group LP. That transaction requires LaSalle shareholder approval, though, and no vote has yet been scheduled.

Bortz noted on the call, as he has repeatedly in recent months, that the Pebblebrook offer is worth substantially more than Blackstone's offer based on Pebblebrook's current share price. He called on LaSalle's board to accept the Pebblebrook offer, or to push for a higher purchase price from Blackstone.

Pebblebrook owns about 9.8% of LaSalle's common shares, and Bortz said the holders of the vast majority of LaSalle shares "are overwhelmingly in support of our offer, and completely against the existing proposed agreement."

The Blackstone transaction is not in a position to win shareholder approval, and "might not even get any votes today" based on current share prices, Bortz said.

Since the transaction was announced, more than 110 million LaSalle shares have changed hands, and "every single one of those shares traded above the Blackstone price," Bortz added. "So clearly, any shareholder wanting the certainty of cash has already received it."