TORONTO-A dispute fomented in Canada has landed in US District Court after healthcare real estate investment trust Ventas Inc. filed suit against a California rival for interfering in a recent acquisition. Health Care Properties Investors Trust Inc. responded in a release insisting that the charges are “without merit.”

Ventas declined comment on the matter when contacted by, with a spokesman citing the pending litigation for the silence. HCPI CFO Mark Wallace did not respond to calls by press deadline. Reportedly seeking $100 million in civil damages, Ventas alleges “tortious interference with contract and tortious interference with prospective business advantage” in trying to acquire Toronto-based Sunrise Real Estate Investment Trust. The lawsuit was filed with the US District Court in western Kentucky.

In court documents, both parties vowed to “vigorously defend” their sides, with Ventas arguing that HCPI forced it to pay a higher price to purchase Sunrise than initially planned. The company did ultimately pay about C$1.50 per share more to close the sale following an unsolicited offer from HCPI that offered a C$3 premium per share. Originally set to pay $1.8 billion, Ventas sealed the deal last week for $2.2 billion. At the time Debra Cafaro, Ventas chairman, president and CEO, said “The acquisition of Sunrise REIT, with its 77 high quality private pay senior housing communities, is a major milestone for Ventas and we are pleased to have successfully completed the transaction.”

Ventas has already won several rounds in the Ontario court system, prevailing on issuance of a “standstill agreement” that ordered HCP to cease its pursuit of Sunrise. The package is considered valuable to the two firms, according to analysts, because it provides a foray into the expanding seniors housing market in Canada, where 11 of the 77 properties are located. The REIT now owns 532 senior living facilities in North America and has a bed count of more than 50,000.

Landing Sunrise would have brought HCP closer in line with its rival in the seniors residential arena, but the Long Beach, CA-based REIT still has 337 senior living projects to go along with a mixed portfolio of hospitals, medical office buildings and healthcare-related assets.

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