RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) ¿ Highwoods Properties Inc., a real estate investment trust that owns property in the southeastern U.S., said Tuesday that it is offering 5.8 million common shares to the public.

Highwoods said it plans to use net proceeds from the offering to repay debt and for general corporate purposes.

Merrill Lynch, Wachovia Securities and Morgan Stanley will serve as the joint book-running managers for the offering. The underwriters will have a 30-day option to buy up to 870,000 additional shares to cover any overallotments.

Highwoods' shares jumped $1.47, or 6.7 percent, to close at $23.32, rising with many stocks in a widespread rally in U.S. stock markets. In after-hours trading, following the announcement of the offering, the company's stock fell $1.26, or 5.4 percent, to $22.06.

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