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UPDATE 3-Sweden's EQT to buy real estate investment firm Exeter for $1.87 bln

* Exeter has $10 billion of assets under management

* Part of EQT growth strategy for real estate and North America

* Reports annual net profit of 283 mln euros, beats forecasts

* EQT shares up 10% (Adds CEO quote, share reax)

STOCKHOLM, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Sweden’s EQT said on Tuesday it had signed a deal to buy global real estate investment manager Exeter Property Group for $1.87 billion as the buyout group reported an almost doubling in net profit for 2020.

EQT said the acquisition fitted well with its plan to expand its real estate operations, particularly in North America where the firm aims to strengthen its position.

Exeter, majority-owned by Ward Fitzgerald and other members of Exeter’s management team, has more than $10 billion of assets under management, EQT said in a statement.

“We’ve found a perfect match in that they are similar to us in terms of growth, financial profile and underlying culture,” EQT Chief Executive Christian Sinding said on a conference call with analysts.

“Real estate is a market we see as quite attractive, growth has been strong and we expect that to continue,” he added.

EQT shares were up just over 10% at 0840 GMT.

Pennsylvania-based Exeter is focused on acquiring, developing and managing commercial and residential properties mainly across the United States and Europe.

The consideration for the acquisition consists of $800 million in new EQT shares and $1.07 billion in cash.

Exeter is expected to generate around $135 million in revenues for 2020, EQT said.

“The transaction supports EQT’s diversification across asset classes as well as provides a stronger footprint in the U.S.,” Citi analysts said in a note.

EQT also reported an annual net profit of 283 million euros ($343.17 million) compared to 149 million a year ago, beating a mean forecast of 230 million euros in a Refinitiv poll of analysts.

It proposed a dividend of 2.40 Swedish crowns per share paid in two equal instalments in June and December.

Assets under management grew by 46% to 52.5 billion euros, a record year for the firm in terms of fund raising.

$1 = 8.3007 Swedish crowns $1 = 0.8247 euros Reporting by Colm Fulton and Johannes Hellstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard, Kirsten Donovan

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