Morgan Stanley Real Estate continued its aggressive global property buying spree today when it agreed to buy a well-known US REIT for $6.5bn (£3.3bn) including debt

The world’s most active property company is buying Crescent Real Estate Equities Co, the REIT founded by investor Richard Rainwater. The deal, which is expected to close by the third quarter, includes the assumption and refinancing of about $3.1bn (£1.6bn) of debt.

The Fort Worth, Texas, company, which owns a mixed bag of commercial and residential properties, put itself on the block late last year and recently sold a unit that held its hotel properties.

Crescent owns and manages 70 office buildings totalling 27m sq ft with concentrations in Dallas, Houston, Austin, Denver, Miami and Las Vegas. It has investments in resort residential developments as well as destination resorts and wellness retreats.

The transaction continues a string of blockbuster takeovers in the US as weak-performing REITs have been preyed upon by private-equity firms and stronger REITs. This may be another strong year for REIT deals. In 2005, 11 deals were struck valued at a combined $18.7bn (£9.4bn), according to SNL Financial. In 2006, there were 23 deals that totalled $64.3bn (£32.4bn), including the huge Equity Office deal. So far this year, there have been 12 deals for a total of $16.2bn (£8.15bn).