Deal brightens Sunwest prospects

Blackstone Group offers $285 million to buy debt-heavy Sunwest Management.

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Blackstone Group is raising its offer to buy Sunwest Management by $50 million to $285 million. The offer includes Blackstone paying much of the debt owed by Sunwest.

The state’s largest chain of senior living properties, Sunwest faced ire from investors and legal action from the SEC after a sudden collapse cost investors more than $400 million.

A significant downside for Oregon to a winning Blackstone bid is its plan for its partner in the deal, Seattle-based Emeritus Senior Living, to take over management of Sunwest’s 148 properties. That means Sunwest’s Salem headquarters and its 200 employees would likely be phased out over time.

But for the estimated 1,200 Sunwest investors, who lost more than $400 million when the company nearly collapsed amid fraud accusations in 2008, Blackstone’s new and improved offer could significantly increase their recovery on what seemed like a lost cause a year ago.

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