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(Ian Ritter is national online editor for GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

CHATTANOOGA, TN-Mall owner CBL & Associates has joined up with private-equity firm Bain Capital to purchase a stake in Jinsheng Group, a China-based retail developer, for $60 million. This is CBL’s first non-US venture.

CBL will contribute $15 million to the investment, while Boston-based Bain will spend the remainder. “We believe this investment positions CBL to take advantage of the incredible expansion and development opportunities currently underway in Chinese retail real estate, albeit on a measured and conservative basis,” says Stephen Lebovitz, CBL’s president, in a statement.

Jinsheng, based in Nanjing, owns two shopping centers and two home-décor centers in that city, as well as two home-décor assets in Shanghai. In all, the firm operates 7.1 million sf of retail space and is also building several developments.

CBL is the latest major US mall REIT to go to Asia. Simon Property Group’s Chelsea outlet division owns centers in Japan and Taubman Centers is working on projects in Macau and South Korea. Meanwhile, US retailers, like Home Depot, are entering China and other Asian countries.

Bain Capital has offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The firm is also involved in acquiring many retailers and taking them private. It and some partners are buying the Outback Steakhouse chain, and Bain Capital also owns part of the Michael’s craft chains as well as Toys “R” US.

CBL is owner of about 130 retail properties across the country. The company also has 14 centers under construction, totaling three-million sf.

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