Equity One ( EQY) agreed to sell a controlling stake in 30 properties to private equity company Investcorp in a deal that will raise $327 million for the real estate investment trust.

Equity One plans to pay a special dividend of up to $1.50 to common shareholders after the transaction closes, and will use the rest of the money for investment activities and to pay down existing debt.

As part of the sale, Equity One will enter a 15-year agreement to manage and lease the properties. The transaction is subject to the receipt of about $323 in committed financing and should close in the second quarter. It will result in a gain of $92 million to Equity One.

The transaction creates a joint venture that will own the properties, 20% of which will be owned by Equity One. The total value of the joint venture will be $402 million, Equity One said.

The 30 properties comprise about 2.9 million square feet and were 92.6% leased as of Dec. 31, 2005.

"We are thrilled to undertake this transaction with Investcorp," Equity One said. "It is a high-quality financial institution with an extremely strong track record. This venture allows us to recycle capital to higher growth opportunities in our target markets in the southern and northeastern United States as well as explore new opportunities in the Mid-Atlantic States. By retaining a 20% ownership stake and managing the properties, we will share in the upside from this portfolio and remain in a position to capitalize upon other opportunities in Texas. We believe that this transaction creates significant value for our stockholders with a meaningful gain on sale and the possibility of a special dividend distribution."