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DALLAS-With up to $350 million of initial equity at its back, Meridian Global Investors will hit the ground running under the umbrella of Cresa Partners Capital Markets’ international investment services, rolling out a buy side fueled by European institutional capital. The new kid on the investment circuit already is making plans to launch its first fund by midyear 2005.

“I think the goal over the next year is to do $500 million to $750 million in total volume,” Ron Miller, Meridian’s managing partner, tells GlobeSt.com. “From an equity perspective, that’s $250 million to $350 million.” But, he says, that’s merely the beginning of the plan to team his black book of high net-worth investors to the European institutional crowd he intends to pool to buy US commercial real estate.

“A pool of investment relationships that I am advising currently is entertaining the idea of forming a fund,” Miller says. The first hard push could debut a fund in first or second quarter 2005 with a minimum of $100 million in equity to fuel $250 million of buying power. “I don’t think anything less makes any sense,” he says.

Miller put his 19-year-old Nautique Capital Corp. to bed to strike the alliance with the Dallas-based Cresa’s financial services arm. “I needed a larger platform to cater to institutional groups,” he explains. Cresa Partners has more than 125 offices in 35 countries, including 46 locations in North America, to handle tenant representation, portfolio administration, project management and capital market expertise.

Miller says he has a couple deals close to the contract stage, but that’s all he is saying until the ink dries. Meridian Global Investors is focusing on acquisitions in the Top 20 US markets, with Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami and Phoenix as Miller’s favorite five. The acquisition list targets class A office, power and lifestyle retail centers and long-term, net-leased industrial assets ranging from $10 million to $300 million.

The buying attributes are familiar to those in the know: low risk, long term…traits of German capital and the US’ newest buying group, the Irish. Miller also will be courting Middle Eastern wealth, now seeking safer ground than what can be found in its home region.

“We believe that the swell of capital is only beginning,” Miller says about the possible $350-million opening pool. He is looking to land acquisitions of $40 million or more for European institutional funds and $10 million to $30 million for private investors. “On the international institutional side, it’s the bigger the better,” he says. “These are core-type players not value-add players.”

Besides Miller, Meridian Global Investors includes Jim Leslie, Brant Bryan, David Stringfield and Cathy Sweeney, all Cresa Partners Capital Markets’ principals.

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