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NEW YORK CITY-From stock prices that had cratered two years ago, REITs have roared back, producing acquisition volume this year that outpaces that of institutions, private equity or foreign investors. Key to this success was REITs’ acumen—and gumption—in raising capital through the public markets, said a panel of CEOs at REITWorld 2010 Monday afternoon. As a measure of their success in this arena, the executive board of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange Monday morning, prior to kicking off this year’s edition of the association’s annual convention.

“I told CEOs, ‘if you raise capital, it will demonstrate to the market that you’re a survivor,” recalled Martin Cohen, co-chairman and co-CEO of Cohen & Steers Capital Management, of those uncertain days in 2008 and early 2009. A few companies found the “courage” to go to the public markets, said Cohen, and then others followed, to the tune of $35 billion raised through equity offerings in ’09. Year to date, 2010 has already matched that figure, said Debra Cafaro, outgoing chair of NAREIT, in opening remarks prior to Monday’s panel.

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