GERMANTOWN, TN-Equity Inns Inc. is moving toward its $2.2-billion merger with an affiliate of Whitehall Global Real Estate Limited Partnership 2007. Three months after the proposed deal hit the streets, shareholders of the locally based, self-advised hotel REIT threw their support behind it.

According to a company release, of the 55.1 million common shares outstanding, 69.8% voted for the merger; of the total common shares that cast a vote, 99% voted in for the merger. The move puts the deal on the path for an Oct. 22 closing date.

Equity adds it will “declare at a future date a pro rated dividend on the company’s common shares subject to the satisfaction or waiver of the closing conditions to the merger. The record date for the pro rated dividend will be the close of business on the last business day prior to the merger effective time.” The dividend will be paid on the third business day after the merger closes.

Both parties entered into a definitive merger agreement on June 20, as previously reported. Under the deal, Whitehall will take all outstanding common shares of Equity Inns for $23 per share, cash. The price is a premium of approximately 28% over Equity Inns’ 90-day average closing share price, Equity executives said at the time, and a premium of approximately 19% over the REIT’s closing price on June 20.

Equity Inns, Inc. focuses on the upscale extended stay, all-suite and mid-scale limited-service segments of the hotel industry. The company, which ranks as the third largest hotel REIT based on number of hotels, currently owns 136 hotels with 16,235 rooms located in 35 states.

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