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DENVER-Locally based AmeriVest, the only national office real estateinvestment trust that exclusively caters to small- and medium-sized tenants, hired the investment firm Bear Stearns & Co. to, among other things, consider a possible sale. Bear Stearns will review a broad range of strategic alternatives, the company says.

That could include identifying an institutional capital partners to assist in its future growth, a sale or recapitalization of all or a portion of the company’s properties, the potential sale or merger of the company and other possible transactions designed to enhance shareholder value. AmeriVest’s board will evaluate any strategic alternatives offered by the investment house. But the company cautions that there may not be any transaction at all.

Also, if the board authorizes change-of-control agreements, some of its executive offices may be paid severance if there is a sale. “We believe that this is an appropriate time for AmeriVest to review its strategic direction,” says William Atkins, chairman and chief executive officer. Strategic alternatives could include “possible partners that can assist us in controlling our growth. We continue to believe that our focused small tenant strategy makes sense in the US office market. In light of the fierce competition for high-quality office buildings and the valuations to the company of increased size and market presence, we must consider every alternative to create value for our shareholders.”

The initial response to the announcement hurt its stock, which a fewhours after the announcement on Monday fell by 7.26%. Other office REITs, by contrast, were up slightly.

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