CHICAGO- Equity Office Properties Trust, the nation’s largest office REIT, will concentrate on paying down debt and building value in its portfolio following a period of expansion through acquisition, say analysts who attended Equity Office’s Investor Forum in Boston yesterday.

“They will be concentrating on cutting the debt and in building a dynamic organization from the acquisitions,’ says Fred Carr, principal at the Penobscot Group, which provides real estate research services to institutional investors. “The company will likely sell assets in smaller markets where Equity Office’s presence is marginal.”

Equity Office’s debt has risen to 41% of its portfolios undepreciated book value, compared to around 35% before Equity Office paid $5.6 billion to acquire Cornerstone Property Trust this summer. Carr says that properties in markets like Orlando, Phoenix, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Raleigh/Durham will likely be sold to pay down debt.

“What really came out of the conference was that Equity Office is not content to be just a collection of assets, but that they intend to build an organization that adds value,” says Sheila McGrath, REIT analyst at Dresdner, Kleinwort & Benson.

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