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REITs Buoyed by Private Equity

Private equity interest has built "a good floor" for real estate investment trust (REIT) prices. Jonathan Litt, REIT analyst at Citigroup, joined "Squawk on the Street" to dissect Tishman Speyers' offer for apartment-builder Archstone-Smith Trust -- and named the one public company that could beat Tishman to the punch.

REIT sector shares have risen 8% since Archstone agreed to accept Tishman's $60.75 offer. Litt told CNBC's Erin Burnett that no other private-equity firms are likely to pitch rival bids, as Tishman would get "a lot of synergies" from the deal, already owning major properties in key markets like Manhattan. Other private equity groups, he believes, would merely want to "slice and dice the assets" -- and thus miss out on getting a premium for their troubles.

But the analyst pointed to one publicly-traded real-estate firm that could tip Tishman's applecart: AvalonBay Communities. Litt says a competitive AvalonBay run at Archstone would parallel Vornado Realty Trust's attempts to snatch Equity Office Properties away from Blackstone in February -- a bidding war that Vornado lost.

But AvalonBay enjoys certain advantages, including a footprint in apartment-rich markets on both U.S. coasts, and "young assets" that are "seeing terrific rent growth." Litt predicts that AvalonBay may bid as much as $65 per share for Archstone.

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