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McLEAN, VA-JER Partners, the global real estate investment armof the JE Robert Cos., has named a high profile advisory board toassist the firm with its Latin American initiative. Leading thecast of global business all stars is José María Aznar, the formerPrime Minister of Spain.

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Other members include Pedro Aspe, principal of Evercore Partnersand the former Secretary of Finance of Mexico; Roberto Dañino,deputy chairman and executive director of Hochschild Mining PLC andthe former Prime Minister of Peru; Francisco Gros, president, OGXS.A. and the former Head of Brazil's Central Bank, of the BrazilianDevelopment Bank--BNDES, and of Petrobras; James A. Harmon,chairman of Harmon & Co. LLC and former chairman of the USExport-Import Bank; Moisés Naím, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy,chairman of the Group of Fifty and former Minister of Trade andIndustry of Venezuela; Alvaro Saieh Bendeck, chairman of Copesa anda director of the Santiago Stock Exchange; Alejandro Santo Domingo,managing director of Quadrant Capital Advisors Inc.

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"We are excited to have such a distinguished group of peopleadvising on our expansion into Latin America, which we believeoffers numerous attractive investment opportunities," Joseph E.Robert Jr., chairman and CEO of JER, says in a statement. "All ofthe members of our board, with their extraordinary backgrounds andwealth of experience, enhance JER's ability to achieve itsobjectives in Latin America."

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JER has made little if any investment in this part of theworld--until recently, that is. In June the firm signed anagreement with an Argentine firm--Euromayor S.A. de Inversiones, ofthe national development firm Ecipsa Group--to make an initialinvestment of $10 million in the country. In essence, J.E. RobertCos. became the strategic partner of the Argentine holding companyfor the expansion of its business. Under the agreement JER has theright to contribute up to a total of $26.3 million at the same pershare purchase price paid for the initial $10 million, subject tocertain adjustments.

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JER's capital contribution will be used to fund Euromayor'scurrent projects as well as any that may be launched during therest of 2007. Currently the firm is developing Valle Escondido, thefirst master planned community in the interior of the country;TierrAlta Ecopueblo; Valle del Golf, which include a 27-hole golfcourse designed by Nicklaus Design, the CasaMagna residential towerdevelopment in Mendoza and the housing plan Natania for the middleincome segment of the market, which is present in several importantArgentine cities. "We are enthusiastic about the real estateopportunities throughout South America," Robert said at the time.Indeed the investment has given rise to industry speculation thatJER is in fund-raising mode—again--this time for the Latin Americanregion. Regulations would prohibit the company from discussing anysuch activities unless the fund had closed. JER did not returncomment in time for publication.

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JER Partners is clearly in global expansion mode. In June, forexample, it and Alfa Capital Partners, a Moscow-based privateequity and real estate investment group affiliated with Alfa Group,closed the Marbleton Property Fund, a $321-millionequity pool that will focus on investments across all propertysectors in Russia and Ukraine. That same month itclosed its third European fund, JER Europe Fund III, after havingraised $1.1 billion, or €809 million, from investors in Europe,North America, Asia and the Middle East. With leverage, the fund'stotal buying power will be up to $5.4 billion. As with thespeculation about its Latin American initiative, JER began makinginvestments with the capital for this fund before it announced thefund's closing. JEREurope Fund III has committed to 13 transactions--one ofwhich had been announced earlier this year. In February, itreported the acquisition of three commercial properties for €18.5million in the north of Germany from a German mortgage bank. Thetrade was made in a joint venture with International Property AssetManagement GmbH (IPAM), the German-based asset management company,in order to develop a commercial property portfolio in Germany.

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