Equity Office Properties Trust, the largest office real estate investment trust by market capitalization, is being taken private in a $36 billion acquisition by Blackstone Real Estate Partners that includes the assumption of Equity Office's debt.The Chicago-based REIT reported that Blackstone is acquiring Equity Office common stock, and limited partnership interests, for $48.50 per share in cash, representing an 8.5% premium over the shares' closing price on Nov. 17. Equity Office's board has recommended the merger and is also recommending that shareholders approve the transaction. Jonathan D. Gray, Blackstone's senior managing director, said the deal "represents the largest private equity deal in history." Blackstone said it expects that Equity Office will enhance its office platform, which includes CarrAmerica and Trizec, two other REITs recently acquired by Blackstone. According to J.P. Morgan's U.S. REIT research group, the overall REIT group should benefit from this transaction. The REIT can be found online at http://www.equityoffice.com.

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