Highwoods does $570 million merger with J.C. Nichols In a bid to diversify its geographic reach into the Midwest as well as its property mix, Raleigh, N.C.-based Highwoods Properties Inc. (NYSE:HIW) has agreed to merge with the J.C. Nichols Co. in a transaction valued at $570 million. The deal includes assumed debt of about $250 million, net of approximately $65 million in cash. J.C. Nichols will retain its name and remain located in Kansas City as a division of Highwoods.

Recently Highwoods also acquired the Garcia portfolio in Tampa, Fla., the Riparius portfolio in Baltimore, Md., and three additional properties in Florida in transactions valued at $253 million. In total after all of these announced transactions, Highwoods' market capitalization increases to roughly $4 billion.

J.C. Nichols, founded in 1905, is Kansas City's premier real estate operating company. It is best known for owning the Country Club Plaza shopping center in Kansas City, which includes retailers such as FAO Schwarz, Brooks Brothers, Coach, Polo Ralph Lauren and Saks Fifth Avenue. The firm owns or has interests in 27 office buildings, 33 retail properties, 16 apartment communities and 13 industrial properties in Kansas City with more than 4.3 million sq. ft. and 1,816 apartment units.

Insignia Financial forms REIT for multifamily deals Insignia Financial Group, Greenville, S.C., recently launched Insignia Properties Trust (IPT) as the primary multifamily real estate ownership and acquisition vehicle of Insignia Financial. Recently IPT agreed to merge with Angeles Mortgage Investment Trust, a publicly traded mortgage REIT

IPT has also completed tender offers for limited partner interests in two public real estate limited partnerships - Consolidated Capital Institutional Properties and Consolidated Capital Institutional Properties/2. IPT currently owns interests ranging from 1% to 64% in partnerships which own, in the aggregate, 184 properties totaling about 42,000 multifamily units and about 4.2 million sq. ft. of commercial space.

AMB Property Corp. forms major REIT In the continuing REIT IPO wave, AMB Property Corp. (NYSE: AMB) became one of the country's largest publicly traded real estate companies recently with its initial public offering of more than 16 million shares. AMB, based in San Francisco, has more than $2.2 billion in total assets. The stock priced at $21 a share and was underwritten by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (lead), and BT Alex. Brown, Lehman Brothers, NationsBanc Montgomery Securities and Smith Barney as co-leads. AMB has 128 holdings in 26 markets around the country. Of these, 95, or 358 buildings, are industrial properties and 33 are retail properties.

Paine Webber, Morgan Stanley, G&W buy portfolio A joint venture between Paine Webber Real Estate Securities, Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund II, and Gale & Wentworth LLC has completed the acquisition of interests in 54 office buildings and an associated property management company from Bellemead Dev-elopment Corp., a subsidiary of The Chubb Corp.

The portfolio includes 7 million sq. ft. of suburban and metropolitan office properties, located primarily in New Jersey. Gale & Wentworth, one of New Jersey's leading developers and managers of commercial properties, will manage the portfolio.

World Financial Properties Bruce Flatt has been named president and CEO of World Financial Properties, based in New York. Flatt also is the president and COO of Brookfield Properties Corp., which is the 70% owner of World Financial Properties.

Nomura Capital Chuck Rosenzweig has been promoted to managing director and sole head of Nomura Capital's Eastern Region. His former co-head, Kathy Corton, was recently named senior managing director and now heads the firm's national lending operation.

Cornerstone Properties Dr. Rolf-E. Breuer resigned from his post as chairman of the board of directors for Cornerstone Properties (NYSE:CPP), based in New York. John S. Moody has been elected the new board chairman, and continues as CEO and president of the company.

Bank of America Michael J. Mihelbergel has been named to head Bank of America's national Retail Realty Division and also the Central Region REIT Division of the Commercial Real Estate Services Group (CRESG). Mihelbergel will be based in Chicago.