(Ian Ritter is national online editor for GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

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CHATTANOOGA, TN-Mall owner CBL & Associates has joined upwith private-equity firm Bain Capital to purchase a stake inJinsheng Group, a China-based retail developer, for $60 million.This is CBL's first non-US venture.

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CBL will contribute $15 million to the investment, whileBoston-based Bain will spend the remainder. "We believe thisinvestment positions CBL to take advantage of the incredibleexpansion and development opportunities currently underway inChinese retail real estate, albeit on a measured and conservativebasis," says Stephen Lebovitz, CBL's president, in a statement.

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Jinsheng, based in Nanjing, owns two shopping centers and twohome-décor centers in that city, as well as two home-décor assetsin Shanghai. In all, the firm operates 7.1 million sf of retailspace and is also building several developments.

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CBL is the latest major US mall REIT to go to Asia. SimonProperty Group's Chelsea outlet division owns centers in Japan andTaubman Centers is working on projects in Macau and South Korea.Meanwhile, US retailers, like Home Depot, are entering China andother Asian countries.

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Bain Capital has offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The firm isalso involved in acquiring many retailers and taking them private.It and some partners are buying the Outback Steakhouse chain, andBain Capital also owns part of the Michael's craft chains as wellas Toys "R" US.

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CBL is owner of about 130 retail properties across the country.The company also has 14 centers under construction, totalingthree-million sf.

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