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PICO's real estate IPO wows Wall Street

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The stock price of La Jolla’s PICO Holdings (Nasdaq: PICO) shot up Friday after a homebuilding and land development company it formed five years ago announced plans for an initial public offering of stock.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, UCP LLC -- currently a wholly owned subsidiary of PICO -- said it hopes to raise $125 million through the IPO, although it did not disclose how many shares it planned to offer or what the expected price range would be.

After the filing became known, stock in PICO jumped more than 7 percent, rising by $1.54 to $23.04 per share. The SEC filings say that the underwriters of the IPO will be allowed to purchase additional shares in UCP, which would directly benefit PICO.

Headquartered in San Jose, UCP, which stands for Union Community Partners, is involved in acquiring, developing, managing and investing in “well-located, attractive real estate assets in select markets” in California, Washington, Nevada and Arizona, according to its corporate website.

It focuses largely on infill development as well as master-planning large community-sized projects on undeveloped land, entailing town centers, employment hubs, schools and transportation grids.

Since PICO launched it in 2008, UCP has bought more than 5,000 lots, mostly in Northern California. In the past year alone, it invested $48 million in the real estate market by buying 1,400 lots.

PICO, a holding company that invests in real estate, agribusiness and water projects, said it would allow the underwriters to buy additional shares of stock.

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