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The problems in the credit market are not stopping firms from finding ways to raise money. One way REITs are raising cash is by bolstering joint ventures. That's exactly what North Miami Beach, Fla.-based Equity One did last month. The firm agreed to contribute seven properties — valued at $197.4 million — to its existing joint venture with Global Retail Investors.

The REIT expects to realize net proceeds of approximately $129.8 million following the contribution. It reports that the proceeds will be used to fund existing development and redevelopment projects, decrease leverage and fund opportunistic acquisitions.

Equity One's joint venture with Global Retail, an entity formed by an affiliate of First Washington Realty and the California Public Employees' Retirement System, comes at a time when Equity's management is seeking to diversify the company's income stream geographically and build its fee revenue, says Paul Adornato, a REIT analyst at New York City-based BMO Capital Markets. Though Adornato believes the company may suffer from the slowdown in housing in Florida and broader economic weakness, the joint venture will allow Equity One to test the waters in other markets with lower risk and capital outlays, he says.

The deal also provides Equity One with a large institutional partner with whom to establish a more national presence, says Richard Moore, managing director with RBC Capital Markets in Cleveland. He notes that it is a way for the company to form a venture with some high-quality, more mature assets.

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