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Team Spirit

Arizona-based triple net lease operator Spirit Finance Corp. is about to become the first U.S. REIT in the portfolio of Australia's financial giant Macquarie Bank Ltd. On March 13, the company agreed to be acquired by a consortium of Macquarie, Kaupthing Bank hf and several independent equity participants for $3.5 billion, including $1.9 billion in assumed debt.

The transaction represents a $14.50 per share price for Spirit's common stock, an 11 percent premium over its closing price on March 12, and will allow the company to take advantage of Macquarie's easy access to capital, according to Spirit president and CEO Christopher H. Volk.

“We fully expect an auction process to emerge and would not be surprised to see topping bids above $15 per share,” writes Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Christopher R. Lucas, who puts Spirit's target price at $16 per share.

Macquarie already owns up to $11 billion worth of U.S. real estate assets through various joint ventures and unlisted property funds. The deal is slated to close in the third quarter.

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