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Blackstone wins Centro’s U.S. malls for $9.4B

February 28, 2011 12:44PM

Blackstone Group is set to buy the U.S. shopping mall assets of Australian landlord Centro Properties Group for $9.4 billion after beating out bids from a Morgan Stanley-Starwood Capital partnership and a joint venture of NRDC Equity Partners and Area Property Partners, the Wall Street Journal reported. The deal, which includes 588 shopping centers, would be Blackstone’s largest since its acquisition of Hilton Worldwide in October 2007 and indicates an optimistic bet on U.S. retail, according to Bloomberg News. Among the properties Blackstone is slated to take over is Century Plaza Shopping Center in Deerfield Beach and Cobblestone Village I and II in Royal Palm Beach. Centro’s struggling U.S. portfolio, which is around 88 percent leased, has $8 billion in debt. The company, whose liberal U.S. acquisition strategy during the real estate boom came back to haunt it after the market crashed, will use the extra $1.4 billion from the sale to keep its Australian operations afloat as an independent company. [WSJ] and [Bloomberg]