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PHILADELPHIA-Real estate loans for locally based RAIT Investment Trust increased by $714 million in Q3, bringing the 2006 total to $1.2 billion, a new benchmark for the specialty finance REIT. A vote on the proposed merger of RAIT and locally based Taberna Realty Finance Trust is set to take place at separate meetings of each company’s shareholders on Dec. 11. The merger was announced on June 9, 2006, as reported by GlobeSt.com.

Asked about the integration process, during RAIT’s third-quarter conference call, Betsy Cohen, chairman and CEO, said, “It’s been robust and we think very effective. We started right out of the box after the merger agreement was signed to work on the backroom portion of what will be one office, assuming we get the approval vote on Dec. 11. We’ve had very successful integration meetings.” Daniel Cohen, her son, heads Taberna. Under the agreement, the merged companies will become RAIT Financial Trust with Betsy Cohen as chairman and Daniel as CEO.

Meanwhile, RAIT’s third-quarter net income was $18.4 million, up 9.4% from $16.8 million in third-quarter 2005. Total revenues for the most recent quarter rose 31% to $34.8 million, compared with $26.5 million for the same quarter a year ago.

Acknowledging that competition has intensified, Cohen said, “30% of the loans we generated this quarter were from repeat borrowers who chose to come to us again.” The company’s loans for two primary types of assets, multifamily and mid-size office, Cohen said, “are quite buoyant.” Of RAIT’s multifamily borrowers, she said, “they are primarily experienced sponsors on properties that have an element of value to be added. Multifamily is clearly the segment across the nation that has been prospering. Vacancies are declining, allowing rents to increase moderately, which is a good trend for us and one that our borrowers can take advantage of. On the mid-size office side,” she continued, “the country is in relative full employment. Even though all real estate markets are local, the areas where we are look good.”

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