(To read more on the multifamily market, click here.)

BALTIMORE-The $1.5-billion cash acquisition of the Town & Country Trust by Magazine Acquisition LP, an affiliate of the joint venture involving entities of Morgan Stanley Real Estate, Onex Real Estate and Sawyer Realty Holdings LLC, has officially closed. TCT and its 37-property portfolio–featuring approximately 13,000 residences in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia–were snapped up for $40.20 per share and the assumption of existing debt. The REIT’s shareholders approved the merger agreement on March 10.

The closing came after months of furious bidding between unsolicited suitors after TCT revealed in December 2005 that it had entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Magazine Acquisition for $1.3 billion, or $33.90 per share. That news was followed by Essex Property Trust Inc. and AEW Capital Management LP coming together as Oriole Partnership with a proposal to purchase TCT for $36 per share, only to be outdone by Berkshire Property Advisors LLC’s proposal of $37 per share. The bidding war continued with Oriole increasing the stakes to $38.50, which led Magazine Acquisition to sweeten its original offer with a jump all the way up to $39, thereby inciting Oriole to increase its proposal to $39.50. Magazine Acquisition then countered with $39.60. Oriole next bid $40.15, but decided to stay put after Magazine Acquisition came back with the winning offer of $40.20 per share on Feb. 16.

Now, the apartment communities of TCT–which came into being in 1993 as the successor of Town & Country Management Corp.–will be repositioned by the new ownership. “This is an optimal time to invest in multifamily as an asset class generally and in these geographies in particular,” says Onex president and CEO Michael Dana. “TCT’s assets are located in attractive Mid-Atlantic and Florida markets, which are characterized by strong supply and demand fundamentals and positive demographic trends and which should provide exciting opportunities for value enhancement.”

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