updated 11/20/2006 10:00:59 AM ET 2006-11-20T15:00:59

The private-equity firm Blackstone Group has agreed to buy Equity Office Properties Trust, the nation’s largest publicly traded office-building owner and manager, for about $19 billion.

Chicago-based Equity Office said late Sunday its board has approved the offer by Blackstone’s real estate arm of $48.50 per share, which is an 8.5 percent premium to the stock’s closing price Friday of $44.72 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Equity Office’s management and trustees are not part of the buyout group, the company said.

The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2007, contingent on customary closing conditions and shareholder approval.

Holders of Equity Office’s 5.25 percent Series B Cumulative Preferred Stock will receive $50 per share in cash plus any unpaid dividends, and holders of 7.75 percent Series G Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock will receive $25.00 per share in cash plus any unpaid dividends.

Including assumed debt, Equity Office is valuing the deal at $36 billion. The company had total liabilities of $16.5 billion as of Sept. 30, the end of its third quarter.

Equity Office owns properties throughout the United States, including whole or partial interests in 580 buildings in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

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