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The independent advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. [ISS] is recommending that holders of Equity Office stock vote in favor of a buyout by private equity firm the Blackstone Group at their February 5 meeting. Equity Office is the largest owner-operator of office properties in the U.S. Last Thursday, Blackstone upped its all-cash bid by 11.3%, from $48.50 to $54, countering a bid from Vornado Realty Trust of $52 per share in cash and stock. The Blackstone offer amounts to $38.3 billion including debt, making it the largest private-equity bid in history. The Equity Office board of trustees is also in favor of the Blackstone deal. If it is approved by shareholders, the deal should close around February 8. Equity Office shares were up $0.32 on Friday to close at $55.22, above the Blackstone offer price, on speculation that Vornado might once again top Blackstone's bid.

• Sources: Bloomberg, MarketWatch, CNN.com
• Related commentary: Blackstone Back at the Table; Raises Equity Office Bid to $38.3 Billion, Blackstone Group's 'Zell Buyout' Is Questionable At Best, Blackstone Acquiring Equity Office in Largest Private-Equity Deal Ever
• Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Equity Office Properties Trust (EOP), Vornado Realty Trust (VNO). Competitors: Boston Properties Inc. (BXP), Mack-Cali Realty Corp. (CLI). ETFs: iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors (ICF), Vanguard REIT Index ETF (VNQ), WisdomTree Dividend Top 100 (DTN), streetTRACKS DJ Wilshire REIT (RWR)

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Source: ISS Advises Equity Office Shareholders to Accept Blackstone's Bid