After months of speculation, the rumors appear to be coming true. Arden Realty ( ARI), one of the largest office owners in Southern California, is set to be bought by General Electric ( GE), according to published reports. Both The Wall Street Journal and Realty Stock Review report that a deal is imminent. Realty Stock Review, which was the first to break the news earlier this year that Arden was
likely to be bought , said the deal pegs Arden at $48 a share, citing unnamed sources. On Wednesday, Arden shares were up 29 cents, or 0.6%, to $47. After hovering around $38 in September, Arden's shares have since run up 24% as the merger talk heated up. A source also told Realty Stock Review that Maguire Properties ( MPG) and Trizec ( TRZ) might be interested in buying some of the Arden properties from GE, most likely after the GE buyout closes. The Arden deal would continue a trend of REITs being taken private this year. This year, five public REITs have been taken private, with private equity groups and pension fund money paying premiums for the stocks. Arden in particular is seen as an attractive buy because of its portfolio centered around the Southern California office market, which has been on a tear this year . Get Jim Cramer's picks for 2006.