CHICAGO-If the real estate world needs one more assurance thatcurrent global troubles are not impacting the property troubles,then the presenting companies at the National Association of RealEstate Investment Trusts' REITWeek 2010 here are trying to soothethose worries. Just about every official from every trust at theconference here said that while they were initially concerned,issues with the Euro, Iran, North Korea, Israel and other globalconflict are not having a negative effect on business.

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Fore example, Guy Jaquier, president, Europe & Asia for SanFrancisco-based AMB Property Corp., said his global supply chaintenants are moving boxes faster than in years past. “World strifeis not changing usage patterns. We’re still out there signingleases. I woke up this morning for this to see emails about twomore leases we put together. People are still pulling the trigger,”he said.

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David Atkins, chief executive of London-based Hammerson plc,said tenants really have no other options if they want to continueto make money. “Basically, retailers need to grow. The only waythey can grow is to cut costs or improve marketing, which they’vedone as much as they can, or add square footage,” he said.

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Even US-based firms are encouraged to brave the storm and investoutside the country, said Sam Zell, chairman of Chicago-basedEquity Residential. “My attitude is that the only reason you leavethe United States is to achieve higher growth. You ask aboutBrazil. Let’s just say this: David Simon of Simon Property Groupwould be smiling, happy, with 3% same-store growth here. Anyretailer in the United States would be happy with that number. I’mgetting 12% same-store growth in Brazil.”

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Zell said other world markets are somewhat overhyped, such asChina, which is reliant on US debt anyway, and India, which ismired in beaurocracy. He said he has no desire to go into Europe.“Europe is on its way to becoming Disneyland. They make some goodwine and cheese there…but nobody does or makes anything. As forRussia, I’m not brave to invest in that market,” he said.

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South of the United States is still considered a good bet, thecompanies agreed. Daniel Hurwitz, president and CEO of Beachwood,OH-based Developers Diversified Realty Corp., agreed with Zell thatBrazil is a great market. “Everyone who has invested in Brazilretail has been very happy. We’re also bullish on Puerto Rico, wejust helped TJ Maxx and Pet Smart get on the island,” he said.

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David Henry, president and CEO of New Hyde Park, NY-based KimcoRealty Corp., said his firm is just finishing the lease up of a $1billion portfolio in Mexico. “It’s something we’ve been working onfor the past seven-to-eight years. Most of the retail centers arecompleted. Leasing there is the same as it is here, it’s picked updramatically, including the large tenants such as Wal-Mart and HomeDepot, and the local stores.”

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It’s both disappointing and promising that world volatility canactually help the US property market, such as keeping interestrates low, said Michael Fascitelli, president and CEO of VornadoRealty Trust. "When uncertainty happens, there’s a flight toquality, and a flight to US debt. This turmoil that we’re seeingright now may make our property more valuable in the short term.Scariness creates opportunity, but you still have to becautious.”

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