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Earlier this week, Equity Residential (EQR - Analyst Report) announced that it has inked a deal to sell a portfolio of assets worth $1.5 billion to a joint venture of The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS - Analyst Report) and Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC.

The deal comes as Equity Residential strategically moves to generate funds for the Archstone acquisition by vending assets in markets it intends to exit as well as non-core assets in primary markets.

The Deal Terms

The assets for sale include 27 properties that are located in Washington, D.C. and Northern N.J., Florida, Phoenix, Denver, Southern California and San Francisco Bay Area. As per the deal terms, the properties are valued at around $187,000 per apartment unit and a capitalization rate in the mid-to-high 5% range.

Equity Residential furnished the buyer with a right to eliminate up to 8% of the value of these assets from their purchase. Therefore, Goldman Sachs and Greystar have contractual obligations to buy at least $1.38 billion of assets.

Archstone Acquisition

Last November, Equity Residential along with AvalonBay Communities Inc. (AVB - Analyst Report), entered into an agreement with Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. to acquire the entire ownership stake of Archstone Enterprise LP – one of the largest investors, developers and operators of apartment communities in the U.S.

The deal, valued at about $16 billion, will entitle Equity Residential to 60% of Archstone’s assets and liabilities, while the remainder will be acquired by AvalonBay. The transaction is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2013.

Our Take

For Equity Residential, the deal to sell off non-core assets is a strategic fit as it would help finance the Archstone acquisition and accelerate its portfolio restructuring initiatives. The Archstone acquisition is likely to result in operational synergies for the company, improving the overall quality of the portfolio with assets in high-barrier, high-growth coastal markets.

Equity Residential currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Considering its fundamentals, we also have a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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