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Business

Japan's Sekisui House set to buy, remodel Fannie Mae HQ

Developer seeks prime US location as part of overseas push

OSAKA -- Sekisui House will purchase and redevelop the Washington headquarters of American mortgage buyer Fannie Mae, it was learned Wednesday, as the company aims to kick-start the overseas expansion central to its growth strategy.

The Japanese developer likely will pay 10 billion yen to 20 billion yen ($88 million to $176 million) for the building and roughly 40,000-sq.-meter property located 10 minutes or so from the White House by car. Sekisui House plans to remodel the 60-year-old brick structure into a shopping center while maintaining its stately facade, as well as build luxury condominiums on vacant land.

Fannie Mae effectively went bankrupt during the subprime-mortgage crisis and was taken over by the U.S. government. The mortgage buyer had been exploring the sale of its headquarters as part of a restructuring plan using taxpayer funds. The company will continue using the building for the next two or three years.

With Japan's mortgage market contracting as the population shrinks, Sekisui House is turning its attention overseas. A top priority is the U.S., where the developer targets sales of 100 billion yen and operating profit of roughly 20 billion yen for this fiscal year. It hopes to use this mixed-use development in a prime location in the U.S. capital to penetrate further into the market.

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