BRISTOL, PA-StoneMor Partners LP has entered into an agreement to buy 45 cemeteries, 30 funeral homes and one pet cemetery from Houston-based Service Corporation International and related entities for approximately $68 million in cash. The properties are located in 17 states and Puerto Rico.

The proposed acquisition takes the locally based company’s number of properties owned and managed to 281, which represents a 37% expansion of its current portfolio. In addition, 13 of the cemeteries and 16 of the funeral homes are in locations where StoneMor does not currently operate: Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, South Carolina and Puerto Rico.

In 2006, the properties to be acquired generated more than $44 million in revenues, which is 35% more than StoneMor’s 2006 revenues. In conjunction with the transaction, StoneMor will receive control of cemetery merchandise and service trusts aggregating approximately $66 million, and perpetual care trusts of about $50 million related to the properties.

During 2006, the cemeteries in the pending acquisition performed approximately 8,300 burials, and approximately 4,000 funerals took place in the funeral homes. The portfolio also includes more than 600 undeveloped acres available for sale, more than 200,000 unsold cemetery spaces in developed sections, more than 3,000 unsold lawn crypts, more than 7,000 constructed unsold mausoleum crypts and more than 5,000 constructed unsold cremation niches.

The acquisition is consistent with StoneMor’s growth strategy, which includes expansion of its national operating platform, according to a printed statement. A StoneMor spokesman tells the company is not commenting on the transaction before it closes, which is expected to take place by year’s end. The company currently has 178 cemeteries and 27 funeral homes in 21 states. It is the only publicly traded deathcare company that is structured as a partnership, and it sells its products and services both pre-need, which is before death, and at-need, upon death.

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