But Equity Commonwealth shares have fallen about 7 percent since then. The deal is only worth about $18.27 per share now, based on today’s closing price of Equity Commonwealth stock. In its statement, Starwood points out that Monmouth shareholders are getting less than they would have in May and are at the mercy of the stock market until the Equity Commonwealth deal closes. Monmouth shares closed at $19.10 today.
“Starwood’s latest enhanced all-cash offer provides Monmouth shareholders with an opportunity to recover lost value with no exposure or uncertainty to volatility in the equity markets or a vote from our shareholders,” Ethan Bing, managing director of Starwood Capital, said in the statement.
After receiving Starwood’s revised offer on July 16, Monmouth said its board would consider Starwood’s proposal. Equity Commonwealth has yet to say anything publicly about Starwood’s overtures to Monmouth. An Equity Commonwealth spokeswoman did not return a phone call.
Monmouth’s choice essentially boils down to two options: Take the cash from Starwood or take a ride with Sam Zell, believing that the Equity Commonwealth shares they receive from the REIT will be worth even more down the road.
Equity Commonwealth has made it clear that the Monmouth acquisition is only the beginning of a bigger push into industrial real estate, noting that it will have about $2.5 billion of cash on its balance sheet to spend on more properties after the deal closes. Right now, Monmouth owns about 120 properties in 31 states.
Many Monmouth investors may be tempted by the opportunity to roll the dice with Zell, 79, an investing legend who has amassed a $5.5 billion fortune with holdings in real estate and business. Yet others may decide it makes more sense to cash out. If they want a stake in the industrial real estate boom, they have other choices. One option: Take the cash from Starwood to buy shares in Prologis, a San Francisco-based warehouse giant with nearly a billion square feet of properties around the globe.
Some Monmouth shareholders may also prefer Equity Commonwealth’s offer for tax reasons. In a deal with Equity Commonwealth, it’s unlikely they would have to pay capital gains taxes. It’s not clear whether that would be the case in a sale to Starwood. Its statement addresses the tax question but only vaguely, saying Starwood “has expressed a willingness to consider the issuance” of a certain type of stock “for shareholders interested in a tax efficient transaction.”