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TOKYO-Long-time Japanese investor Curtis Freeze is divesting a hefty piece of his Prospect Group’s holdings in commercial real estate firm Shin-Nihon Tatemono Co., but will remain on board in anticipation of continued growth. As part of the deal, daVinci Advisors subsidiary Columbus KK is acquiring 11 million shares from Prospect, equivalent to 33% of the outstanding Shin-Nihon shares.

“We believe Shin-Nihon Tatemono has a bright future, and that its prospects will be enhanced in partnership with daVinci Advisors,” says Freeze, offering that the transaction “represents the best way to proactively support Shin-Nihon Tatemono and to deliver the most value to all shareholders.” Prospect Group controls just over 50% of the equity shares of Shin-Nihon, a Jasdaq-traded stock that attracted Freeze’s attention in 2006, leading to a $90-million commitment.

Freeze expresses satisfaction with the performance, citing a 147% gain in operating profits through September when compared to the first nine months of 2006. However, he says, “after careful review and with the full support of the management of Shin-Nihon Tatemono, Prospect concluded it has largely completed the contribution it can make at this stage of the company’s growth,” and felt a new partner would help advance Shin-Nihon’s platform.

Under terms of the agreement, daVinci subsidiary Columbus KK will pay 800 yen per share, or about $88 million. Besides the financial element, daVinci will exchange information and personnel with Shin-Nihon, and will also consider acquisition of certain development projects that the company produces.

Founded in 1975, Shin-Nihon specializes in residential condominiums, but the firm is also a developer of alternative housing, and is increasingly serving as a conduit for cross-border investment in Japanese real estate. The company is pledging to deliver a new generation of housing focused on energy efficiency and sustainable design. The company handles nearly all aspects of a project internally, from site acquisition and permitting to architectural, construction and management duties.

Headquartered in Honolulu, the Prospect Group encompasses three entities, those being Prospect Asset Management Inc., Prospect Asset Management Ltd. and Prospect Residential Advisors. Freeze’s operation manages $1.3 billion in assets distributed among a variety of funds and managed accounts.

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