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CHICAGO-An unidentified US pension fund is embarking on a $360-million program aimed at beefing up its retail real estate portfolio. Local investment management company Henderson Global Investors and Oakbrook-based Inland Retail Real Estate Trust, Inc. are teaming to identify, acquire and manage the assets.

The state employee pension fund has put $100 million into the managed account, providing equity to buy shopping centers over the next 18 to 24 months, according to Henderson Global Investors, which oversees portfolios totaling more than $10.8 billion for institutional and high-net-worth investors.

Inland Retail Real Estate Trust will have a 20% stake in a limited liability corporation with the pension fund, putting up $25 million in the second traunche of the program. In addition to scouting and closing deals, the REIT also will manage the properties.

Inland Retail Real Estate Trust managing director of institutional investments George Pandaleon tells GlobeSt.com he does not foresee problems meeting the pension fund’s acquisition goals, even though the retail sector’s popularity have boosted prices. “We’ve been successfully finding transactions with the power of our efficiencies,” Pandaleon says. “It might seem like looking for the needle in the haystack, but we’re getting to look at the whole haystack.”

Although the pension fund has identified certain markets it would like to invest, Pandaleon says the REIT has guidelines, rather than requirements.

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