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CentroLooks like 2011 could turn out to be the Year of the Big Deal. 
In the latest fast-moving drama, at least six major firms have submitted bids to buy 600 U.S. shopping centers and 112 international malls from Melbourne, Australia-based Centro Properties Group, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Centro has a debt load of $18.4 billion.  Its creditors are marking time before forcing the company to file for bankruptcy, according to various sources in a position to know.

Centro also owns 112 malls in Australia and New Zealand.

Bidders include:

Blackstone Group LP of New York, NY.  Bid undisclosed so far. Consortium led by U.S. real-estate investor NRDC Equity Partners LLC and Australian investor Lend Lease Corp.  Bid, $16 billion-plus for all of Centro’s properties. Tel Aviv-based Gazit Globe Ltd. teamed with Colonial First State Global Asset Management of Sydney, Australia for Centro’s Australian and New Zealand properties. Bid, $7.3 billion. Gazit’s U.S. affiliate Equity One Inc. (EQY: News ) of North Miami Beach, FL, chaired by Chaim Katzman, teamed with Apollo Global Management LLC of New York, NY for Centro’s U.S. operations. Bid undetermined. Charter Hall Retail REIT, also based in Melbourne, wants to buy only  pieces of Centro’s Australian and U.S. assets.  Bid undisclosed.

Centro’s debt was amassed during the boom years as former CEO Andrew Scott went on a buying spree that made company one of the world’s largest retail landlords. Centro’s U.S. portfolio carries debt of $8.1 billion.

Scott, who was ousted in early 2008, purchased several properties including  including New Plan Excel Realty Trust, Kramont Real Estate Trust and Heritage Property Investment Trust Inc.
Centro’s U.S. properties consist of strip malls and other neighbourhood shopping centres anchored by grocers or discount retailers, like TJX Cos.’ TJ Maxx and Marshalls and Kroger Co.

Centro valued its U.S. portfolio at $9.5 billion at the end of its fiscal year on June 30.  Brooksville Square Shopping Centre in Brooksville, FL is one of Centro’s U.S. properties.
Centro is being advised by UBS AG, Moelis & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. 

Story source: Alex Finkelstein www.realestatechannel.com

Tags: commercial, investment, news, property, real estate, research, shopping

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