BET Founder’s Firm Closes Third Private Equity Fund

Jan 14 2008 | 12:21pm ET

RLJ Development, the largest African-American hotel investment firm in the U.S., has closed its third private equity real estate fund with $1.2 billion in commitments.

The RLJ Real Estate Fund III will seek to buy and develop upscale service hotels in major metropolitan areas. The Bethesda, Md.-based firm plans to use upwards of three-times leverage, and will focus on using “premium brands.” RLJ Development, which is led by BET founder and Charlotte Bobcats owner Robert Johnson, is already one of the largest Marriott franchisees in the U.S.

“We are proud to close our third fund and delighted with the overwhelming response from the institutional investment community,” Johnson said. The fund boasts 16 institutional investors as clients, including the General Electric Pension Trust and General Electric Real Estate Equities.

“Our mission is to deliver superior risk-adjusted returns for our investors with a highly-focused investment strategy,” Thomas Baltimore, president of RLJ Development, said. “The backdrop of a slowing economy and tighter credit should create attractive buying opportunities for our well-capitalized firm.”

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