UPDATE 1-LaSalle to buy $133 mln Japan REIT stake

Thu Nov 8, 2007 5:29am EST

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TOKYO Nov 8 (Reuters) - Global real estate investment firm LaSalle Investment Management said it will buy a 32.8 percent stake in a Japanese real estate investment trust (REIT) for $133 million as it seeks to expand in Asia's largest REIT market.

LaSalle, a member of the Jones Lang LaSalle group (JLL.N), also said it will buy out Asset Realty Managers, an asset management firm of the REIT, eAsset Investment Corp 8974.T, for an undisclosed sum.

"The move has a big meaning for LaSalle, since it gives us an access to Japanese capital," Hirotaka Uchiyama, management director of LaSalle Investment Management's Japan unit told a news conference.

The REIT has 22 office, commercial and residential properties worth 64.8 billion yen. As part of the deal, it will acquire two shopping malls from LaSalle for 57.6 billion yen.

LaSalle said it aims to expand the REIT's asset to around 300 billion yen over three to five years and focus on office and commercial properties.

Asset Realty Managers President Masayuki Tanaka said the tie-up with LaSalle was necessary to survive a highly competitive property market.

"Competition for securing good and large properties has been intensifying," he said. "By utilizing LaSalle's research capabilities, we will target relatively new and conveniently located office properties."

LaSalle has become the latest global real estate concern to buy in Japan's REITs. Earlier this year, GE Real Estate, a real estate arm of General Electric Co (GE.N), acquired a 35 percent stake in LCP Investment Corp 8980.T. (Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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