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BEVERLY HILLS—Kennedy-Wilson Inc., the international real estate services and investment company based here, has announced a stock buyback program amounting to as much as one million shares of its common stock—roughly 10% of its total outstanding. By launching a stock-buyback, Kennedy-Wilson joins a small but growing list of real estate companies seeking to repurchase shares at prices they believe are far below their true market value. The company’s stock has recently been trading at roughly $6 per share, far below a 52-week high of 11 ¼.Kennedy-Wilson CFO Freeman Lyle wouldn’t elaborate much about the strategy behind the buyback, and no date was given when the purchases might be completed. “We simply allocate a portion of our capital to purchase our common stock, which we consider to be a good investment,” Lyle says. “The last purchase of this kind was a little over a year ago, and in 1996-1997, we acquired more than 20% of our company’s shares.” Founded in 1977 primarily as a real estate auction house, Kennedy-Wilson has since grown into a diversified international real estate services firm with eight large offices in the US, one in Tokyo and another in Hong Kong. The company’s shares, traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol KWIC, rose 9/16 on heavy volume on Friday to close at 6 ¼–a gain of nearly 10%.

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