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Blackstone Buys Stake in Retail Owner for $718 Million

Blackstone Group LP, the largest private-equity real estate company, bought a minority stake in an East Coast community shopping-center owner for $718 million.

Blackstone purchased the interest in Edens, based in Columbia, South Carolina, from the State of Michigan Retirement System, according to a statement today from the landlord. The New York-based investment firm, along with JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s asset-management unit and the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, also invested another $750 million in Edens.

Edens plans to use the money to buy, redevelop and start new projects in the Boston, New York, Washington, Atlanta and Miami areas. The company currently owns more than 100 centers in states including North Carolina, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida, with tenants such as Whole Foods, Old Navy and Kohl’s.

“Capitalizing on one of the largest equity investments ever into a private U.S. based real estate company, Edens plans to continue to enhance and expand its existing portfolio, creating significant value for its shareholders,” Terry Brown, the chief executive officer of Edens, said in the statement.

Blackstone also owns a majority stake in Brixmor Property Group Inc., a shopping-center landlord that it took public earlier this year. The firm acquired the core of Brixmor’s assets in 2011, when it bought U.S. retail properties from Australia’s debt-laden Centro Properties Group.

The Edens stake was purchased through a Blackstone entity that invests in core real estate, according to the statement. Such properties, viewed as relatively safe investments, tend to have high occupancies with little need for additional work.

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