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WASHINGTON, DC-An affiliate of Municipal Mortgage & Equity LLC called International Housing Solutions will be leveraging $100 million in seed money provided by the locally based Overseas Private Investment Corp. to invest $300 million in affordable housing in emerging markets over the next 10 years. Several applicants participated in the bidding to win the US government agency’s funding commitment.

OPIC, best known for providing financial support for overseas infrastructure investment, then spent several months on due diligence before it made its final selection.

IHS, which is a Luxembourg entity formed in fall 2005, has just opened a new office in Johannesburg, South Africa, a market that will be a key investment focus, according to IHS COO Ursula Powidzki. Within a week it will close on its first transaction there–a joint venture it has formed with a local firm to redevelop a group of properties into 143 units of affordable housing and 38 units of retail space.

Jordan will be another market in which IHS will invest, Powidzki tells GlobeSt.com. Elsewhere, “we are looking at other markets in southern Africa, potentially Botswana, for instance. Likewise, there are markets in the Middle East at which we are looking.”

Affordable housing will be the common criteria, she says. “We may be investing in projects that are rental rehabilitations or in new construction of multifamily buildings. We also may be making investments in companies that are tied to the housing value chain.” The general go-to-market approach will be through a partnership with a local developer, such as the one in South Africa.

IHS is a joint venture between MuniMae and affiliates of Howard Eurocape Limited, a Dublin-based property investment and development company. This is the company’s first emerging market initiative, Powidzki says.

In 2006 MuniMae sponsored $1.2 billion of tax credit equity investments in affordable housing projects. That figure includes a single fund with commitments from 14 institutional investors for more than $500 million–the largest tax credit equity affordable housing fund ever syndicated in the US, according to the company.

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