A host of suitors, which reportedly includes private equity firm The Blackstone Group, have submitted bids for assets owned by Australia Securities Exchange-listed (ASX) Centro Properties, according to various media reports.
The offers come as a debt stabilisation agreement set in 2008 between the ailing shopping centre investor and its creditors nears expiry, a report in the The Financial Times stated. Centro, which owns a large portfolio of properties in the US, was hit especially hard by the financial crisis. According to the FT, the company currently has debts of around A$18bn (US$18.3bn).
According to its website, Centro is a Real Estate Investment Trust with funds under management across Australasia and the US of $18.6 billion. The company does not directly own shopping centres, but invests in shopping centres via its managed funds.
A statement the company submitted to the ASX last month confirmed that there were several “expressions of interests in both Australia and the US”, but did not name the suitors.
The FT also included Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC, private equity firm Centerbridge and hedge fund manager John Paulson in a list of potential bidders, as well as the distressed debt departments of several international banks.
None of the parties involved could be reached for comment.
The Blackstone Group has yet to make an investment in Australia since opening its first office in the country in May last year, despite taking part in bids for Australian assets such as hospital operator Healthscope.