Centro puts $26bn retail assets on the block

The Westfield Group and Brookfield Asset Management are among the buyers looking to bid on part or all of the Aussie shopping mall owner’s portfolio.

Melbourne-based Centro Properties Group has put itself up for sale before a February 15 deadline to refinance $3.4 billion (€2.3 billion) of debt, according to local press reports.

Faced with a tightened credit market in the aftermath of the subprime collapse, the company had been forced to negotiate a two-month extension on refinancing of $3.4 billion of short-term debt with its creditors.

Centro announced Wednesday it was inviting “expressions of interest” following unsolicited attempts to buy assets in the company. The offer includes acquiring Centro or buying its Australian and US assets.

The retail giant currently owns close to 700 shopping malls in the US valued at more than A$17 billion ($15 billion; €10 billion), in addition to its retail properties in Australia and New Zealand. Total property assets under management are valued at approximately $26 billion.

Australian shopping mall owner The Westfield Group, the largest retail property group in the world by equity market capitalization, and Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management are among the potential suitors looking to woo the Aussie mall owner.