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Tower withdrawn

(Bloomberg) -- Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. ended its effort to sell the 57-story IDS Center, the tallest building in Minneapolis, about five months after putting the property on the market.

Inland, based in Oak Brook, Ill., had been seeking a sale of the office tower as it shifts its focus to retail, lodging and student-housing holdings.

Demand is rising for office space in Minneapolis.

The vacancy rate fell to 18.2 percent in the third quarter from 19.2 percent a year earlier, according to data from Reis Inc. (Nasdaq: REIS), a New York-based research firm. Rents rose to $16.86 a square foot from $16.55 a year earlier.

Inland bought the IDS Center in 2006 for about $277 million, the company said at the time.

It hired HFF Inc. (NYSE: HFF) to market the building in July, according to a statement from the broker.

The skyscraper opened in 1972 and includes a retail center, Crystal Court. It was designed by the American architect Philip Johnson.

Fannie, Freddie pay

(AP) -- A government report found median pay for nearly 2,000 senior managers at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac exceeded $200,000 last year.

The report also notes that the federal agency charged with overseeing the government-controlled mortgage giants did an inadequate job monitoring pay.

The inspector general for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued the report Monday.

It says 333 of the 2,000 senior managers are vice presidents who had median pay of $388,000.

That's close to salaries paid by private financial firms and exceeds pay for similar jobs at federal agencies.

Taxpayers so far have paid roughly $170 billion to bail out Fannie and Freddie (OTC: FMCC) since the 2008 financial crisis.

Under pressure from Congress, the FHFA earlier this year capped pay for Fannie (OTC: FNMA) and Freddie's CEOs at $500,000 a year.

Canadian starts

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian housing starts fell for a third month in November, bringing the indicator to its slowest pace in a year, government figures showed.

Work began on 196,125 homes at a seasonally adjusted annual pace, down 3.6 percent from a revised 203,487 in October, Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. (CMHC) said Monday.

Multiple-unit starts in urban areas fell 3.2 percent to 115,717 and single-family starts fell 5.4 percent to 58,606 units, according to the report.

The November decrease “was mainly attributable to declines in single-detached and multi-unit housing construction in Ontario and British Columbia,” Mathieu Laberge, CMHC's deputy chief economist, said in its report.

Icelandic 'no'

(Bloomberg) -- Iceland has rejected a $200 million property investment bid by Chinese billionaire Huang Nubo in a decision that was “categorical,” according to Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson.

Huang's “request to purchase or acquire the right of disposal over Grimsstadir a Fjollum has been declined and I don’t know how clearly this has to be said in order for the man to understand,” Jonasson said in an op-ed piece published in Monday’s DV newspaper.

Huang had planned to develop a resort and a mountain park in Iceland through his company, Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group Co., he said last year.

The planned acquisition of 116 square miles of land would be a platform from which to invest elsewhere in the Nordic region, he said.

The billionaire -- who has properties in California and Tennessee -- is known for helping restore villages in China's eastern Anhui province, which are now included on the UNESCO world heritage list.

The company built and operates resorts near the villages.

Kiwi prices

(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand house prices rose in November at the fastest annual pace since late 2007, led by demand in Auckland, while monthly property sales were the highest in five years.

Prices rose 7.3 percent from a year earlier, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) said.

That's the most since November 2007. Values in Auckland, the nation’s biggest city, jumped 13 percent.

Rapid increases in house values are preventing central bank Governor Graeme Wheeler from cutting interest rates to boost the economic recovery.

“The activity in the Auckland market is now starting to see some spill-over into other parts of the country, with increased buying activity,” REINZ Chief Executive Officer Helen O'Sullivan said. “Tight supply remains the key factor behind increasing prices.”

Prices rose 1.4 percent from October, Monday's report showed. Auckland prices gained 0.9 percent.

House sales climbed 24 percent from a year earlier to 7,454, the most since November 2007, the report showed. Transaction volumes fell 1.2 percent from October after adjusting for seasonal influences, O'Sullivan said.

The time needed to sell a house dropped to 33 days from 35 days in November last year, REINZ said.

Nuclear fault

(AP) -- A team of Japanese geologists says a seismic fault running underneath a nuclear plant in western Japan is likely to be active, which could force the scrapping of one of its two reactors.

The five-member panel commissioned by the Nuclear Regulation Authority announced Monday that the structure underneath the Tsuruga plant showed signs of seismic movement around 100,000 years ago, recent enough to still be active.

Japanese guidelines prohibit nuclear facilities above active faults. Tsuruga's No. 2 reactor sits directly above the fault and would have to be scrapped if the panel's conclusion is officially accepted.

Authorities are also investigating possible faults near several other plants.

South Korean solar

(Bloomberg) -- The solar unit of Hanwha Group, a South Korean industrial group, signed an agreement to supply solar panels to two of South Africa's largest projects.

Hanwha SolarOne Co., which is based in China, will deliver 155 megawatts of the devices to the Letsatsi and Lesedi solar-power projects, it said Monday.

The photovoltaic plants will be built by Spain's Grupo Gransolar SL and Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios SA along with a local company, with the panels set to be delivered by the end of June, Hanwha said.

Chilean solar farm

(Bloomberg) -- Chile will solicit bids next year to build South America's largest solar farm as the government seeks to kick-start renewable energy investment in the Atacama desert.

The government will offer a $20 million grant and a $400 million loan to build the solar farm in northern Chile, which will have more than 50 megawatts of capacity, Energy Minister Jorge Bunster said Monday. The European Union will furnish an $18 million grant.

The solar farm will be the biggest in South America when complete, Bunster said. The bids will be due in the first half of 2013.

Chile has three solar farms in operation with combined capacity of 9 megawatts.

With little cloud cover and the prospects of high electricity prices through the end of the decade, northern Chile is attracting other solar developers.

Companies including Spain's Acciona SA and the local power utility AES Gener SA filed for permits this year to develop solar projects worth more than $9 billion, according to Chile’s environmental regulator Servicio de Evaluacion Ambiental.

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