Worried about the state of the domestic retail market, Kimco Realty Corp., a New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based shopping center REIT, is going after the pocketbooks of the people of the Great White North.

In June, the company announced the formation of RioKim II, a non-exclusive joint venture with Toronto-based RioCan REIT for the acquisition of a 10-property, 1.1-million-square-foot retail portfolio located throughout central and eastern Canada. The portfolio features primarily supermarket-anchored shopping centers in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario, with a total value of approximately $156 million.

During NAREIT's REIT Week conference, which took place in New York City June 4 to June 6, Kimco chairman and CEO Milton Cooper told attendees he was concerned about the impact of the higher gas prices on the purchasing power of American consumers. It's a reason Kimco has increased its exposure in Canada and South America. “It's the fashion right now,” Cooper said.

Kimco already owns a sizeable portfolio in Canada, including four centers in Alberta, eight centers in British Columbia, seventeen centers in Ontario, three centers in Quebec and one center on Prince Edward Island. The REIT has maintained a relationship with RioCan since 2001 through a number of joint venture transactions.

According to the terms of the current deal, the acquisition price will be split 50/50 between the two firms, with RioCan receiving additional fees for sourcing, leasing and managing the properties. Right now, the portfolio features a weighted average occupancy rate of 97.6 percent.