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DDR Eyes China

The untapped East has one more shopping center REIT under its spell. Developers Diversified Realty “is exploring” opportunities in China, where Simon Property Group already has a joint venture. Taubman also has a partnership to consider developments in Asia.

“Developers Diversified Realty has been approached to explore development opportunities in China,” said a company spokesman. “If it is attractive, we may pursue it further.”

While the company would not give specifics, Citigroup analyst Jonathan Litt wrote in a note that DDR's CEO and chairman Scott Wolstein said the company was looking at China with its long-term Australian joint venture partner Macquarie Bank Ltd.

Lehman Brothers analyst David Harris wrote that DDR may act as a developer and collect a management fee, but would probably not own the center.

There is room in China for sophisticated developers. With a retail market of close to $700 billion and an annual growth rate of 9 percent, the Chinese market is primed for more upscale stores.

This summer, Simon said it would partner with Morgan Stanley and Shenzhen International Trust & Investment to build 12 shopping centers in China.

Taubman, meanwhile, has teamed up with Morgan Stanley to create a Hong Kong-based unit, Taubman Asia, which will look for development opportunities throughout East Asia.

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