"We are pleased to deliver solid value to our shareholders in avery difficulty market environment," says Wilshire CEO SherryWilzig Izak, in a statement. "This merger agreement is the resultof months of hard work by everyone involved, and we are proud ofwhat we have accomplished."

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NWJ CEO Nickolas W. Jekogian III, says in a statement that "thistransaction is a major step forward in the implementation of ourlong-term growth strategy." The saga leading to the pending merger,which is subject to approval by shareholders, dates back nearlyfive years to Wilshire's revealed turnaround strategy involving thesale of its New Jersey properties to focus on its holdings inArizona, Texas and Florida. Those sold-off holdings included thecompany's signature Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange, picked upby an investor group for nearly $12.8 million. Twoyears ago, the ongoing repositioning drewcalls from Mercury Real Estate Advisors, Wilshire's largestunaffiliated shareholder, for Izak's resignation and the company'sliquidation.

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But Izak remained at the helm until now. According toinformation released by Wilshire, the purchase price represents a23% premium to the average closing price of the company's commonstock for the 30 trading days preceding the merger announcement.Under the merger agreement, Wilshire can continue to solicitthird-party proposals during the 30-day period ending July 16."Wilshire does not intend to disclose developments with respect tothis solicitation process unless and until its board of directorshas made a decision regarding any alternative proposals…," reads astatement issued by the company.

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For the pending merger, Friedman, Billings Ramsey & Co.acted as Wilshire's financial advisor. NWJ, a privately ownedmultifamily investor and developer best known for its SignatureCommunity brand, was advised by Olympus Capital Group.

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What NWJ will add to its holdings is a Wilshire portfolio thatcurrently consists of five apartment properties totaling 950 units,11 condo units, two office buildings, a 200,000-sf office/retailmix and 19 acres of undeveloped land.

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