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CHICAGO-First Industrial Realty Trust, headquartered in Downtown Chicago, has partnered with the Kuwait Finance House (KFH), a Kuwait-based bank, to found a real estate investment fund with an ultimate capitalization of $300 million, 40% equity and 60% debt. The fund will serve as a forward purchase commitment for specified projects developed by First Industrial.

KFH has initially agreed to contribute $100 million in equity and First Industrial has initially agreed to contribute about $17.6 million, representing an 85% and 15% equity interest, respectively. First Industrial initially will sell up to eight properties to the fund, totaling about 1.6 million sf and valued at nearly $78 million. The fund also will purchase a group of properties currently under development by First Industrial, which will in turn manage and lease the properties.

“This partnership enables First Industrial to fund its merchant development business and provides Kuwait Finance House with a significant investment in a diversified industrial portfolio, by both facility type and geography,” says Mike Brennan, president and CEO of First Industrial.

KFH is a publicly traded, $7-billion financial institution, though 49% of its stock is held by the government of Kuwait. While termed a “bank” in common usage, KFH is not a bank in the Western sense, since it conducts its financial transactions in accordance with Islamic Shareea’a (religious law), which prohibits the paying of interest. Islamic principles allow for other forms of moneymaking for investors, however, and KFH has grown in recent years into an Arab financial entity of some size. Its foreign real estate investments already include residential properties in the United States, nursing homes and other properties in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

First Industrial is a REIT that owns about 1,000 properties totaling 68 million sf, most of it light industrial, warehouse or distribution space. Currently, according to SNL Securities, it has an equity market capitalization of $1.48 billion.

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