Hines opens South American office dubbed Hines-Brazil Continuing its aggressive expansion into international markets, Houston-based Hines has opened an office in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Douglas Munro, formerly a managing director with Richard Ellis in Brazil, is managing the office. Munro has been a veteran player on the Brazilian real estate scene for more than 11 years. The new office fits nicely into the Hines strategy to become a truly global player in commercial real estate markets. More and more multi-national corporations are moving to South America, and Hines is positioning itself to take advantage of those opportunities.

Japan attracts attention from two U.S.-based firms New York-based Kennedy-Wilson International (KWI) and Westin Hotels are expanding their presence in the Japanese real estate market, in two different ways. Kennedy-Wilson is expanding its loan acquisition division to meet the perceived growing opportunity for investment and sales in Japan's rapidly changing real estate markets. As a result of the estimated $1 trillion in distressed loan portfolios currently existing there, U.S. investors are increasingly turning their attention to this market in a big way.

Westin Hotels & Resorts has signed a franchise agreement with Yume Butai Co. Ltd. for The Westin Awaji Island Resort & Conference Center on Awaji Island, located just off the coast of Kobe in the Inland Sea. The owner is the Hyogo Prefecture, together with 47 other concerns. Caesar Park Hotels & Resorts, the hotel management arm of Aoki Corp., will manage the property. The hotel will open in 2000 with 201 rooms and a 140,000 sq. ft. conference center.

Singapore attracts U.S. designer for multiple project work Los Angeles-based Altoon + Porter Architects has completed design work for two major projects in Singapore, one in urban transport and the other in the retail sector. A+P designed two stations for the Northeast Line of Singapore's subway system and is designing a renovation of one of Singapore's largest shopping malls, Marina Square. The 750,000 sq. ft., 250-store mall will remain open during the $15 million facelift.

Montreal property sells to NY-based developer Francis Greenburger, a New York-based developer and owner of Time Equities Inc., recently purchased his second office property in Montreal. Montreal Trust sold the 70,000 sq. ft. building for $770,000 (U.S.). Greenburger says smaller office tenants are looking for premium space in the rebounding Montreal market. Last year, Greenburger bought a 335,000 sq. ft. Montreal office building in partnership with Benenson Capital Co.

Canadian REIT performs first U.S.-based transaction Canadian Real Estate Investment Trust (CREIT) recently purchased the 177,000 sq. ft. The Shops at Oak Brook Place, in Oak Brook, Ill. The unenclosed property was developed in 1996 and is fully occupied with 10 tenants. CREIT owns investment properties from coast to coast in Canada, primarily in the retail, industrial and office sectors. The firm is diversifying its investments into the United States, choosing Chicago as a strong-market entry.

English Partnerships challenges developers on Brownfields During a seminar at last month's MIPIM property conference in Cannes, France, Anthony Dunnett, chief executive of English Partnerships, invited private-sector landowners to bring forward brownfield sites for development in the U.K. This follows the Deputy Prime Minister's request in February to improve the quality and procurement of housing developments in Britain. English Partnerships is the U.K. government's regeneration agency, whose task it is to regenerate derelict, vacant and under-used land and buildings in partnerships with public, private and voluntary sector organizations to transform areas of need into quality places for people to live and work.

Docklands gets green light on new exhibition center An agreement has been reached to build London's new International Exhibition Centre, called ExCel, in London's Docklands development. The agreement was reached between London Docklands Development Corp. (LDDC), two wholly owned subsidiary companies of Country Heights Holdings Bhd (a Malaysian property developer) and shareholders of London International Exhibition Centre Ltd. Phase I of the project will include 1 million sq. ft. costing 200 million pounds and be completed in the year 2000.