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NEW YORK CITY-Lexington Realty Trust took a net loss of $71.6 million for the first quarter, but also pared its overall debt, according to financial results reported Thursday. For the same time period in 2008, the REIT’s net loss was $1.4 million.

In a statement, T. Wilson Eglin, Lexington’s president and CEO, says that during Q1 the company made “great progress with respect to strengthening its balance sheet. We successfully refinanced the vast majority of our 2009 debt maturities and reduced our overall debt by $52.6 million. In a challenging operating environment, we are pleased to have ended the quarter with 92% occupancy and believe that our real estate portfolio continues to produce strong cash flows supported by a diverse asset base and the stability of net leases. We are also pleased to announce that our credit facility has been increased by $40 million to a total of $290 million.”

The $52.6-million debt reduction included $22.5 million of 5.45% exchangeable notes repurchased at a 34.1% discount, according to an SEC filing. After Q1 ended, Lexington repurchased an additional $14 million original principal amount of these notes at a 25.5% discount, leaving $174.5 million original principal amount outstanding.

The $40-million increase in credit was on a secured facility that originally totaled $250 million, consisting of a $165-million term loan and an $85-million revolving loan with KeyBank N.A. The new facility bears interest at 2.85% over Libor and matures in February 2011, but can be extended to February 2012 at Lexington’s option, according to the REIT.

During the first quarter, Lexington signed 16 new and renewal lease totaling 547,000 square feet. The REIT also acquired the remainder interests in 27.6 acres in Long Beach, CA for an estimated fair value of $2.5 million in connection with a tenant’s surrender obligations and recorded it as non-operating income; sold Jones Apparel Group’s 96,000-square-foot headquarters building at 180 Rittenhouse Circle in Bristol, PA for $11.4 million to a Chicago partnership; incurred an $8.6-million non-cash charge due to its forward equity commitment to repurchasing 3.5 million common shares; and recorded real estate impairment charges of $9.5 million on three properties and impairment charges of $50.3 million on its debt investments. At quarter’s end, Lexington had approximately $4 billion of total assets, including $73.8 million of cash and restricted cash and $2.3 billion of debt outstanding.

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