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Constellation Energy completes the sale of its 41.5% stake in Columbia REIT


Constellation Energy Group Inc. said yesterday that it has completed the sale of its 41.5 percent stake in Corporate Office Properties Trust, a Columbia real estate investment trust, as part of a strategy to focus on its core energy business.

The Baltimore energy company, which was COPT 's largest shareholder, sold 8.9 million common shares at $12.04 per share. COPT also issued another 2 million shares.

Constellation announced last month that it planned to sell its COPT shares. Shareholders and analysts had complained that the real estate interests distracted and sometimes hurt the company.

COPT officials said the sale allows them more flexibility and increases their trading capacity.

"What we've done is spread out the ownership to a much more diverse group of shareholders," said Randall M. Griffin, the REIT's president and chief operating officer.

COPT, an owner and manager of suburban office buildings, is one of the largest owners in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. Constellation sold 16 office buildings to Corporate Office Properties in 1998 and received 8.6 million shares.

Constellation also has two seats on the real estate trust's board. The members will be replaced when their terms expire in 2003.

COPT shares rose 3 cents to $12.46 yesterday.

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