TORONTO-Locally headquartered Sunrise Senior Living Real Estate Investment Trust, which agreed to be acquired by Ventas Inc. in January, says it will challenge an Ontario Superior Court decision that effectively prevents it from considering a competing bid from Health Care Property Investors. Sunrise said late Thursday it would file a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeal for Ontario today seeking an expedited hearing on the matter.Louisville, KY-based Ventas signed its C$15-per-share purchase agreement with Sunrise in January following an auction process conducted by independent trustees of Sunrise REIT. Long Beach, CA-based HCPI was involved in the auction but dropped out at the last minute, declining to submit a final binding proposal. The Sunrise board approved the Ventas transaction in January. When HCPI then submitted a C$18 bid in mid-February, outside of the formal process, Ventas filed suit.

The suit requested that the court force Sunrise Senior Living REIT to comply with its purchase agreement and enforce its standstill agreement with Health Care Property Investors. The HCPI standstill agreement from the original competition contains provisions that prohibit HCPI from, among other actions, making any proposal to acquire any securities or all or any assets of Sunrise REIT, and remains in effect for a period of 18 months, ending in May 2008.

The court ruled in favor of Ventas on Tuesday. Late Wednesday night, HCPI issued a statement saying it would comply with the ruling and sent a letter to Sunrise withdrawing its bid.

Sunrise owns 74 properties. Ventas controls some 49,000 beds in 455 senior living properties. HCPI, which last year acquired CNL Retirement Properties for $5.3 billion, the largest healthcare REIT transaction in history, controls some 337 senior housing facilities, 260 medical office buildings, 35 hospitals, 69 skilled nursing facilities and 30 other healthcare facilities.

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