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LONDON-Liberty International was admitted into the FTSE 100, that elite club of the 100 biggest companies in the UK, this morning.

The company’s admission to the blue-chip index is the fulfillment of a lifelong ambition for Donny Gordon, the South African chairman who pioneered out of town shopping centres in Britain. The company’s best known assets are Lakeside and Metro Centre and the company has development opportunities in Cardiff and in Oxford, both of which are awaiting local or national government performances.

Liberty’s exposure to prime retail has been the driving force beind its market value of £1.8 billion ($2.8 billion). Shares have risen 20% this year compared with a 4.8% fall in the property sector and a 22% decline in the FTSE all-share.

But last month Gordon came under criticism from some quarters in the City when he announced a £159 million ($249 million) share placing to raise funds for Liberty’s acquisition of the remaining stake in the Victoria Centre in Nottingham. But the placing also enlarged the company’s share capital to comply with rules aimed at ensuring liquidity in the shares of would-be FTSE members.

Not only is inclusion in the FTSE seen an a mark of prestige raising a company’s profile among investors. But it can also attract interest from institutions tracking the FTSE 100.

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