Real estate investment trust Mid America Apartment Communities Inc said it would buy rival Colonial Properties Trust for about $2.17 billion to expand in the apartment rental market in southern United States.
U.S. apartments rents are rising and vacancy rates are falling as the economy improves. The apartment vacancy rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to 4.3 percent in the first three months of 2013 - the lowest in more than a decade.
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The acquisition will give MAA an asset base of about 85,000 multifamily units in 285 properties across in the Sunbelt, the company said on Monday.
After the deal, MAA's 10 largest markets will be Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, Austin, Raleigh, Charlotte, Nashville, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando and Houston.
Under the deal, MAA will offer 0.36 common shares for each Colonial Properties Trust unit.
Based on MAA's closing share price of $67.97 on Friday, the offer of $24.47 per share represents an 11 percent premium to Colonial Properties' Friday close.
The combined company is expected to have a pro-forma equity market value of about $5.1 billion and a total market value of $8.6 billion, MAA said.
Colonial Properties Trust shares were up 5 percent at $23.31 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange. MAA shares were down more than 3 percent at $65.70.
(Reporting by Bijoy Koyitty in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)