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Hitting Paydirt

Sydney, Australia — based limited property trust Westfield Group is looking to expand its already large development pipeline by capitalizing on its existing portfolio. The group launched a new $1.5-billion wholesale fund.

The company revealed it is holding discussions with interested parties to sell stakes in six of its Australian regional and super-regional shopping centers to finance the vehicle.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the sale would include 50 percent stakes in three suburban Sydney malls and 25 percent stakes in properties across the rest of the country. The money raised in the fund would then help raise cash for Westfield's growing development portfolio.

The company already has 21 projects under construction, including a 75 percent stake in the 13-million-square-foot Stratford City development in London, which sits adjacent to the site of the 2012 Olympic Games. It also recently announced details of a development in White City (see below).

Westfield, which would follow in the footsteps of Australian compatriots Centro Properties Group and Macquarie Goldman Group in launching a wholesale fund, had a strong first half of 2006. Its six month earnings were up 9.4 percent, or approximately $603.8 million, and occupancy across its international portfolio is close to 100 percent.

The exception is the U.S., where occupancy levels at Westfield properties are currently at 93.5 percent.

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