For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – May 30, 2012 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Equity Residential (EQR), Bank of America Corporation (BAC), Barclays Bank PLC (BCS), UDR Inc. (UDR) and Merge Healthcare (MRGE).
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Here are highlights from Tuesday’s Analyst Blog:
Equity Residential to Acquire Archstone
Equity Residential (EQR), a real estate investment trust (:REIT), has recently signed a binding purchase agreement with the affiliates of Bank of America Corporation (BAC) and Barclays Bank PLC (BCS) to acquire their remaining ownership stake of 26.5% in Archstone for $1.58 billion in cash.
Archstone is a private company which owns, operates and develops multifamily apartment properties. It was owned by a consortium of financial institutions including Bank of America, Barclays, and the bankruptcy estate of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. While Bank of America and Barclays collectively held a 53% stake in the company, the remaining 47% was held by Lehman.
Last year, Equity Residential struck a deal with Bank of America and Barclays to acquire half of their combined ownership interests. However, Lehman had the ‘right of first offer’ (ROFO), under which the banks were obliged to present the stake with any offer acceptable to them and offer Equity Residential a chance to either match or beat it. Subsequently, as Lehman exercised this right and acquired this 26.5% interest, Equity Residential’s contract with the banks was terminated.
Presently, Equity Residential exercised its, previously assigned, exclusive right to purchase the remaining 26.5% banks’ interests in Archstone. However, Lehman has also exercised its ROFO right and executed a binding purchase agreement with the two banks to acquire the Archstone interest for the same purchase bid. This transaction is expected to close within approximately 15 days. Both the parties have released each other from all claims regarding Archstone.
As per the agreement, if Lehman now acquires the interest, Equity Residential will be entitled for a break-up fee of up to $80 million from both the banks and a termination fee of $70 million from Lehman. On the contrary, if Lehman chooses not acquire the interest, Equity Residential's agreement with the banks will remain intact.
In case, after the final acquisition of Lehman, if Equity Residential acquires all the stakes of Archstone within 120 days, under certain circumstances it will likely have to payback all or a portion of $150 million received on the account of termination and break-up fees. Presently, Equity Residential has not negotiated with Lehman regarding the buyout of all outstanding interest in Archstone. But they may exercise the activity as the agreement does not prevent the company from exercising such type of negotiations in the future.
Based in Chicago, Illinois, Equity Residential engages in the acquisition, development, and management of high quality apartment properties in top U.S. growth markets. Equity Residential owns or has investments in 427 properties located in 14 states and the District of Columbia, consisting of 121,011 apartment units.
Equity Residential currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating. We are also maintaining our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock. One of its competitors, UDR Inc. (UDR) also holds a Zacks #3 Rank.
New Radiology Deal for Merge
In a concerted effort to tap the growing market for electronic health record ("EHR"), imaging and interoperability solutions provider Merge Healthcare (MRGE) recently struck another deal with a national radiology group Lakeland Healthcare. As per the deal, Lakeland Healthcare group will deploy Merge’s entire suite of cloud-hosted radiology solutions to meet the “Meaningful Use” need as well as to improve workflow.
The Lakeland Healthcare group is a multi-site practice with two regional hospitals and a number of affiliated and free standing clinics in Illinois. Each year this group performs 300,000 studies for hospitals in the US.
Thus, Merge strongly expects this newly formed alliance between them to increase the number of hospitals served along with an increase in the company’s number of studies to over one million in a couple of years.
Merge’s radiology solutions comprise Merge RIS, a web-based radiology information system used for streamlining of workflow as well as helps to meet the Meaningful Use criteria. The other meaningful use solutions of Merge are Merge PACS (a real-time picture archiving communication system), Merge Financials (a web-based billing system), Merge Documents (a paperless office solution), Merge Referral Portal and Merge Dashboards.
Earlier this month, Merge also added 12 new practices to its ever-growing list of users who selected its complete EHR solution to achieve Meaningful Use need. Presently, Merge Meaningful Use solutions are deployed by over 89 clients, representing more than 850 physicians.
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