Regency Centers, Jacksonville, Fla., and its joint venture partner Macquarie CountryWide Trust of Australia are buying a 101-property retail portfolio for about $2.74 billion from a joint venture between the California Public Employees Retirement System and First Washington, Bethesda, Md.Regency said its ownership stake in the 13 million-square-foot portfolio -- which will expand the two companies' holdings in new markets and enhance their presence in key markets -- will be 35% and Macquarie's will be 65%. To finance the acquisition, the partners said they intend to tap about $900 million of assumed secured debt on the properties; $800 million of bridge financing from affiliates of Wachovia Capital Markets and JPMorgan Chase Bank; and equity stakes, with Regency funding its $400 million stake through its line of credit and about $275 million in bridge financing from Wells Fargo Bank. The companies said they expect to refinance most of the existing mortgage debt on the properties in six months and use the proceeds to fully repay the bridge loan. "The combination of population density and household income makes the First Washington/CalPERS portfolio one of the highest ranking in terms of buying power," said Martin E. Stein Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Regency Centers.

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