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23-11-2010 12:24:50

Westfield sells £871.5 million stake in London complex

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian shopping-mall owner Westfield Group (Westfieldg Stapled) is selling a stake in its Stratford City development in London to Dutch and Canadian pension funds for 871.5 million pounds, Westfield said on Monday.

It has agreed to sell a 50 percent stake in the retail arm of the development, which is being built next to the site of the 2012 Olympic Games, to Dutch pension fund APG and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

The deal, due to be completed in late 2011, follows Westfield's move to spin off half of its Australian and New Zealand property assets to create a new $12 billion (7 billion pounds) fund that will not have offshore and development risks.

The main benefits of the Stratford deal are a 150 million pound profit on the development, which Westfield plans to reinvest in other projects, and an increase in the expected return on its stake to more than 9 percent from 7-7.5 percent.

The deal will also cut Westfield's gearing by 2 percent.

The sale will have little impact on its operating earnings per share forecast of 74.6 cents in 2011.

The Stratford sale and Westfield's spin-off are all designed to help perk up the group's shares which have dropped 5.7 percent to A$11.82 so far this year, down slightly more than the broader market.

(Reporting by Mark Bendeich and Sonali Paul; Editing by Ed Davies)

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