Suffice it to say with growing interest in real estate investment trusts, including the bevy

of mortgage lenders that converted to publicly traded REITs, 2004 will go down as the year the REIT industry went from niche to mainstream. Before the chapter on this year's activity closes, however, comes word from Starwood Capital Group Global that it has secured a position in the blossoming industry via its new Starwood Real Estate Securities fund.

Starwood Real Estate, managed by CEO and portfolio manager Matthew C. Gilman, was announced last week.

"We see this initiative as complementary to and a logical extension of our traditional real estate opportunity fund business," noted Barry Sternlicht, chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital, in a release about the new venture.

"REITs are a compelling investment class for those seeking liquid real estate exposure, strong current income with positive growth prospects, a low correlation to other investment alternatives, broad real estate diversification and long-term inflation protection," said Gilman.

Prior to his position at Starwood Real Estate Securities, Gilman was a senior portfolio manager at ABP Investments U.S. Inc., the U.S. arm of the Dutch civil service pension fund, where he was responsible for an $8 billion portfolio of publicly traded real estate securities diversified across all property sectors. Prior to that, Gilman covered real estate securities at J.P. Morgan Investment Management.

Copyright 2004 Thomson Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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