SYDNEY (Reuters) - Private equity firm Blackstone Group LP has acquired 588 U.S. shopping mall assets from Australia's debt-laden property group Centro Properties for $9.4 billion in one of the biggest global property deals since the credit crisis.
Centro confirmed on Tuesday it had agreed to sell its U.S. assets to Blackstone as part of a major restructure, marking Blackstone's first major entry into U.S. retail real estate.
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Blackstone beat rival bidders including Morgan Stanley Real Estate which had teamed up with Starwood Capital Group as well as New York-based NRDC, a source familiar with the transaction told Reuters on Monday.
Centro did not name the other bidders on Tuesday but said it had received a number of bids for the assets.
Blackstone acquired the assets for $9.4 billion, including debt. The U.S. assets were acquired at a 1.3 percent discount to December 31 book values, Centro said.
The total equity proceeds going to Centro and its various managed funds under the deal is $1.38 billion with proceeds to repay debt.
The deal is expected to close mid-2011.
Centro also announced on Tuesday it had reached a debt restructure agreement with lenders and was in talks on establishing a listed Australian retail property portfolio as part of a wider restructure.
Centro's stapled securities were trading 10 percent higher at 16.5 cents by early afternoon.
(Reporting by Michael Smith; Editing by Ed Davies)