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Dutch Pension Fund Ups U.S. Ante

In its never-ending search for investment opportunities, foreign capital is finding continued safe harbor in American properties and in joint ventures with American firms, thanks to tighter U.S. credit markets and the weak dollar.

In one of the latest examples, Dutch-based pension fund PGGM is increasing its investment with Dallas-based commercial real estate investor Behringer Harvard to purchase multifamily properties in the United States. The new deal doubles PGGM’s original investment of $100 million in May 2007 to $200 million. And PGGM might not be done yet — it has the option to increase its investment to a total of $300 million.

According to a recent report by New York-based researcher Real Capital Analytics, foreign buyers purchased $3.5 billion of apartment properties by the end of the third quarter in 2007, up from $2.9 billion for all of 2006. While UK investors dominate the top buyers, investors from Singapore and Germany are also making their presence felt.

For its co-venture, PGGM and Behringer Harvard are targeting well-located Class-A multifamily properties purchased from reputable national and regional developers before the properties achieve stabilized occupancies.

Under the terms of the original agreement, PGGM will invest in individual assets with Behringer Harvard or one of the firm’s current investment programs. In return, Behringer Harvard provides strategic management for each joint venture including acquisition, asset management and disposition services, legal and accounting services, and property management services.

“Since partnering with PGGM in May, our multifamily team has completed, or is in the final stages of completing, transactions in 11 outstanding Class-A apartment assets,” says Robert M. Behringer, founder and chief executive officer of Behringer Harvard. “We believe PGGM's decision to increase its investment in our platform is a testament to the quality of these properties, their geographic diversity and the unique approach we’ve developed to achieve exceptional pricing.”

According to Mark Alfieri, Behringer Harvard’s senior vice president of real estate, the company has made investments in the metro areas of Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston and has additional near-term closings planned for properties in the Washington, D.C., Fort Lauderdale and Denver areas.

Behringer Harvard is no stranger to sourcing foreign investment capital. In 2006, the firm struck a deal with Hamburg, Germany-based HCI Capital AG to invest up to $1.3 billion in European properties, with a focus on Germany, the Netherlands and England.
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