Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE: VNO) has taken a surprisingly large investment stake in retailer J.C. Penney Co.

The company disclosed through a Schedule 13D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that its subsidiaries have acquired beneficial ownership of approximately 9.9% of the common stock of J.C. Penney Co., Inc. (NYSE: JCP). In the third quarter of 2010, Vornado recorded an unrealized gain of approximately $32.2 million on the portion of this investment that is accounted for as a derivative.

Vornado is a real estate investment trust and one of the largest owners and managers of commercial real estate in the United States with a portfolio totaling over 100 million sq. ft., primarily located in the New York and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas.

J.C. Penney is a major retailer that operates 1,108 department stores nationwide, of which 416 are owned, including 119 ground leased. The company recently reported a 5.1% increase in September comparable store sales, which was ahead of expectations.

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