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AUSTIN, TX-Investment fund manager AIC Ventures LP is gearing up to put $300 million worth of sale-leasebacks and net-leased assets in its portfolio by year end. To move toward that goal, the local company hired Michael Fitzgerald as acquisition director to head up West Coast acquisitions.

“We operate on a more regional and geographic structure,” explains David Steinwedell, AIC Ventures’ managing partner of acquisitions. “He has an investment banking background and experience on the West Coast. Those were important to us.” Fitzgerald has been vice president of Thomas Weisel Partners, a publicly traded investment bank and also was with the investment banking department of First Albany Corp. He’ll operate out of AIC Ventures’ Austin office, and travel to the West Coast two or three times a month.

Steinwedell tells GlobeSt.com that AIC Ventures closed a couple of West Coast deals in 2008, but wants to do more in that region because the market is offering some good investments on the industrial net-lease area. AIC Ventures is also willing to look at office net lease deals ranging in value from $3 million to $40 million. The goal Steinwedell adds, is to add balance to AIC Ventures’ portfolios. With a presences throughout Texas and in Chicago, IL, establishing a stronger footprint on the West Coast would provide that balance. He says Fitzgerald is already at work and has some prospects for purchase lined up, but declined to elaborate.

Steinwedell says while AIC Ventures isn’t planning to open any more offices in 2009, a sixth acquisition team could be added, which would specialize in build-to-suit assets. “That would be different from our typical geographical focus,” Steinwedell comments. “If the right person came along tomorrow, we could launch this pretty quickly. The right person, he goes on to say, would require a strong background in corporate industrial real estate, who understood characteristics of the build-to-suit market and had some investment experience as well.

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