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Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust has signed a deal to sell 30 properties in mostly smaller communities across Canada for $426-million.

The buyer was not immediately identified.

The portfolio includes 27 stand-alone retail properties and three distribution centres.

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They have an average lease term of approximately 12 years with Loblaw Cos. Ltd., an affiliated company.

The buyer also has an option to acquire two additional stand-alone retail properties for $29-million.

Choice Properties says the portfolio is being sold for “slightly above” its carrying value and proceeds from the sale will be used to repay debt.

“Along with the recent issuance of equity, this transaction further strengthens our balance sheet by reducing leverage and providing additional capacity to fund our significant development program,” chief executive Rael Diamond said in a statement.

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