Ventas to Raise $168M Via Stock Sale

Health-care REIT Ventas Inc. has agreed to sell some 3.9 million shares of its common stock to UBS Investment Bank in an underwritten public offering. Ventas also granted UBS a 30-day option to buy as many as 585,000 more shares to cover overallotments.  According to Louisville-based Ventas, gross proceeds from the offering will be about $168.6 million, or $193.9 million if the overallotment option is fully exercised. The company says it will use the offering’s net proceeds to pay down debt and for other purposes, including acquisitions. Ventas’ current portfolio includes seniors housing communities, skilled nursing facilities, hospitals and medical office properties in the United States and Canada.   The move comes ahead of the release of Ventas’ fourth quarter 2007 returns on Feb. 13. According to the company’s third quarter 2007 report, it saw funds from operation (FFO), an important REIT metric, at $88.7 million in 3Q07, a 32 percent increase compared with the third quarter of 2006, when FFO stood at $67 million. REITs as a whole took a fairly large hit during the credit crunch in the second half of 2007, though REITs specializing in health-care properties did relatively well. In 2007, for the first time since 1999, in the FSTE NAREIT All REIT Index saw an annual decline, down 17.83 percent.  According to the NAREIT’s REIT Watch, however,  the six healthcare REITs that it tracks saw an overall 2.13 percent increase stock value in 2007. Included in that group is Ventas, which saw its share prices drop steeply last August, but which had recovered to end 2007 a little ahead of the end of 2006.