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DALLAS-Crow Holdings of Dallas relinquishes 2.4 million common stock shares in Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co., selling to the US’ best known value fund, Third Avenue and related mutual funds. According to published reports, Third Avenue Value Fund has been on a buying binge since the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, DC.

Crow remains the majority stockholder, retaining more than 3.5 million or about 9.9% of the total outstanding shares. Yesterday’s sale is in line with a previously stated intent, Harlan Crow, chairman of Crow Holdings, said in a prepared statement. “The privately negotiated transaction…accomplishes our diversification objectives insofar as they relate to our investment in TCC,” he says.

Third Avenue Value Fund, a Delaware business, now ranks second in the shareholder base, according to Robert Sulentic, Trammell Crow president and CEO. At the close of business yesterday, Trammell Crow’s stock was valued at $9.71 per share.

The acquisition maintains Third Avenue’s philosophy of buying into companies with strong long-term prospects. Third Avenue Value Fund, a Maryland business, was set up in November 1989 and started operations in October 1990. Its five-year-old affiliate, Third Avenue Real Estate Funds, holds interests in some of the leading development companies and brokerage houses nationwide. Late last week, it was reported that Third Avenue Value Fund is awaiting approval to set up its fourth fund and one that targets international investment in developed countries.

Founded by fund manager Martin Whitman, the purchaser historically invests in a portfolio of equity securities of well-financed companies often priced below private market values and debt securities with high-effective yields. The real estate fund invests upward of 65% of its total assets in an equity and debt securities portfolio. Third Avenue Value Fund’s current portfolio totals $2.3 billion.

Third Avenue’s newest acquisition is a 53-year-old, well-established real estate firm with 170 offices in the US and Canada that are divided into 14 “mega markets.” The Dallas-based Trammell Crow has been building a presence in Europe and Asia through an alliance with Savills plc, based in the United Kingdom, and the jointly owned outsourcing company, Trammell Crow Savills Ltd. Other global offices are located in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

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