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Kennedy Wilson to float European unit, seeks 750 mln stg

LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - U.S. real estate investment fund Kennedy Wilson said it plans to raise as much as 750 million pounds ($1.25 billion)from a listing of its European property unit, betting on a uptick in the property markets of Ireland, Britain and Spain.

Kennedy Wilson, which manages $13.7 billion of property assets across the U.S., Europe and Japan, said it planned to raise the cash by placing shares with eligible institutions and selected cornerstone investors, and a subscription by some of its affiliates.

"The European real estate market is mostly at or past the trough of the cycle and currently offers great investment opportunities to capable investors," Mary Ricks, president and chief executive of Kennedy Wilson Europe, said.

Kennedy Wilson said it had already received binding commitments of 685 million pounds of the gross proceeds, which included a pledge from a group of cornerstone investors and affiliates to invest 615 million pounds.

The twelve cornerstone partners include George Soros' Quantum Partners and asset manager Janus Capital, it said.

The listed unit would acquire property and property loans from distressed sellers and financial institutions looking to deleverage, and will initially invest in Britain, Ireland and Spain.

It has already agreed to buy two property portfolios in Britain, containing 40 office, industrial and retail properties spanning across 2.6 million square feet for 223 million pounds.

Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch International are acting as joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners, while J&E Davy is acting as joint bookrunner.