Real estate money manager Clarion Partners has agreed to buy Crow Holdings Industrial Trust, a private REIT, for $1.5 billion. New York-based Clarion, a subsidiary of ING Real Estate, will create a new REIT to acquire most of Crow’s portfolio. An unnamed client of Clarion’s will acquire the remainder of the properties.

The portfolio includes roughly 300 properties encompassing 35 million sq. ft. scattered over 22 cities. "This is the most geographically diversified REIT portfolio I’ve ever seen," says Steve Furnary, chairman of Clarion Partners. Clarion was "underweighted" on the industrial side before this acquisition, says Furnary.

"Clarion sees the industrial sector as a good investment right now given the recent returns in the sector," he says. Crow’s management team will be absorbed into Clarion.

Prudential Real Estate Investors has an equity stake in Crow Holdings, a private industrial REIT based in Dallas and owned primarily by the Crow family. Clarion manages about $7.5 billion worth of U.S. commercial real estate assets for both pension funds and institutional investors.

ING Real Estate, the parent company of Clarion Partners, has over $31 billion worth of total assets under management. It was reported three months ago that Clarion was close to arranging $785 million worth of debt to finance the Crow Holdings acquisition. Clarion was expected to assume roughly $360 million worth of loans and pay the balance of the purchase with equity.