UNITED STATES - Lehman Brothers Real Estate Partners has formed a new joint venture with B Consulting for the development of new retail properties in Italy.

Gerald Parkes, European head of Lehman Brothers Real Estate Partners, said: "We are glad to have concluded this agreement with B Consulting. It allows us to enter the retail sector in Italy, which we believe will offer interesting investment opportunities. The company that we are teaming up with has a defined project pipeline and is a capable dynamic partner."

Claudio Zaniboni, chief executive of B Consulting - labeled by Lehman as the "dynamic partner" - also added: "Lehman Brothers is an important financial partner for us. The creation of the joint venture allows us to proceed with the development of five sites. We have been working on the preparation for them for some time. These projects represent the first major step of a plan to further develop the activities of the joint venture in Italy."

The first five sites in the joint venture involve the construction of four shopping centres and one retail park in northern and central Italy, worth over €450m and covering 160,000 square metres.

Both companies will also continue to look for additional retail projects to develop for the Italian JV in Italy.

This deal by Lehman Brothers is part of an investment for its commingled fund, Lehman Brothers Real Estate Partners II which raised $2.4bn in 2005 and included $400m of equity invested by Lehman Brothers and its employees.

B Consulting has built a variety of real estate projects across Europe, including office, retail, apartments, logistics centres and brownfield projects.