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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

ORLANDO-Locally based CNL Financial Group Inc. is launching a new REIT with Macquarie Group Ltd. to seek out commercial real estate investment opportunities across all sectors around the globe. The unlisted REIT will be capitalized at $1.5 billion and become available to investors in the latter half of 2009.

Curtis McWilliams, president and CEO of CNL Real Estate Advisors Co., will serve as president of the new CNL Macquarie Global Growth Trust. He says the new REIT will be different from CNL’s other sector-specific trusts, adding that because it is a non-traded fund it is not expected to encounter the same turmoil as traditional REITs lately.

“The reasons REITs are getting battered now is because of legacy assets that were bought over the last year and a half, not prospective assets that will be available to be invested in with fresh capital,” McWilliams tells GlobeSt.com. “Actually, now is the perfect time to commence a new investment program. We’ll have a wide swath of sectors that we can evaluate.”

The CNL Macquarie Global Growth Trust aims to identify investments with the potential for greater returns through a combination of active management, renovation or repositioning, and development or redevelopment, according to its prospectus released Tuesday. Specific property examples cited include offices, shopping centers, industrial and business parks, multifamily housing and healthcare properties.

Geography will be another factor in the trust’s investment decisions, with up to 30% of assets to be located outside the US. Australia-based Macquarie has offices worldwide that will allow CNL to expand its scope for opportunities, according to McWilliams.

“We’re really excited about adding one more world-class strategic partner to our mix,” he says. “We have historically aligned ourselves with premiere companies that add value and share our values, and Macquarie is another example of that as we look to move globally.”

This marks the first collaboration between CNL and Macquarie, both of which have in-depth experience investing in and managing commercial real estate within their respective markets. “We anticipate that our combined expertise should be of significant benefit to this new fund,” says Mark Mullen, Macquarie division director.

Since it was established in 1973, CNL has formed or acquired companies with more than $23 billion in assets, including hotel, retail, restaurant, senior housing and lifestyle properties. Macquarie provides banking, financial, advisory, investment and funds management services with more than $180 billion in assets worldwide.

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