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Centro to Sell Five Australian Malls

Centro Properties Group, which last month won its fifth extension on a deadline to repay as much as A$6.6 billion ($6.3 billion) of debt, is seeking to sell five of its Australian shopping malls to help pay down its obligations.

All of the assets of the unlisted Centro MCS 9 syndicate are up for sale, Melbourne-based Centro said in a letter sent to investors and e-mailed today to Bloomberg. The unit's malls were worth A$309 million as of Dec. 31, according to Centro's Web site.

It is an ``optimum time'' to sell the assets, Centro said. ``Certain shopping centers recently offered for sale are achieving strong sale prices irrespective of tight credit conditions and rising interest costs.''

Centro Properties, which owns and manages more than A$24 billion of shopping malls in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, has plunged 96 percent since Dec. 17 when the company said it was struggling to refinance debt as the seizure in global credit markets shut funding avenues. Centro fell 2 percent to 24 Australian cents as of 3:52 p.m. Sydney time on the Australian stock exchange, valuing the company at A$203 million.

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