Ventas Inc., a Louisville, Ky.-based real estate investment trust, has entered into a merger agreement to acquire Provident Senior Living Trust in a transaction valued at $1.2 billion.Provident shareholders are to receive 0.4951 of a common share of Ventas and $7.81 in cash for each Provident common share, the health care REIT said. Provident, a senior-living private REIT, owns 68 independent and assisted-living properties in 19 states with about 6,819 units, according to Ventas. Debra A. Cafaro, president and chief executive of Ventas, said the transaction expands the Ventas portfolio and "substantially advances our strategic goals of increasing our private-pay revenue sources and increasing our tenant diversification." Ventas said it expects to fund the $231 million cash portion of the purchase price by drawing on its revolving credit facility and also by issuing debt. The mortgage debt encumbering the Provident properties will be assumed by Ventas.

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