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Digital Realty leadership skirts Brazil expansion rumors

Digital Realty Trust Inc. by all accounts had a very strong second quarter with leasing, but glimmerings of the data center real estate investment trust's global expansion also caught attention.

An analyst quizzed management at the outset of the Q&A segment of the company's second-quarter earnings call about a report in early July alleging that Digital Realty is in talks to buy the Brazilian data center operator Ascenty. A deal, if one materialized, would mark Digital Realty's move into South America.

CEO Bill Stein declined to comment on "market rumors" but said the company likes "to stay close to our customers" and follows keenly where they have an interest in expanding.

Stein noted that the REIT's leadership had said at a 2017 investor day that it would attempt to enter two new markets in three years, citing at the time a map of the world's largest economies.

"When looking at new investment opportunities, we pay particular attention to new capabilities, new markets, platforms that are appealing. ... From that map, you can probably draw your own conclusions. We do keep tabs on everything. We see everything because of our size. We look at potential markets all the time," Stein said.

Digital Realty has been among the more active public REITs in the M&A arena in the last couple of years, closing in September 2017 its acquisition of data center REIT peer DuPont Fabros Technology Inc.