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SYDNEY-Macquarie CountryWide Trust, a locally based grocery-anchored retail investor traded on the Australian Stock Exchange, has acquired a 75% interest in four US shopping centers for a total of $75.3 million.

The interests are being acquired from Regency Centers, which is retaining the remaining 25% as well as the property management assignment. Regency says its weighted average initial yield will be 8.53%.

The properties being acquired are: Bent Tree Plaza, a 79,473-sf center in Durham, NC, that is 100% leased; Franklin Square, a 162,809-sf center in Frankfort, KY, that is 96% leased; Palm Harbor, a 193,615-sf center in Daytona Beach, FL, that is 94.6% leased; and Highland Square, a 250,213-sf center in Jacksonville, FL, that is 98,2% leased. Regency says it paid $9.8 million for Bent Tree Plaza, $16.9 million for Franklin Square, $18.6 million for Pam Harbor and $28.9 million for Highland Square.

CountryWide is funding the purchase with a combination of debt and proceeds from the its June 2004 Distribution Reinvestment Plan, which is being 100% underwritten by JPMorgan. To protect against foreign exchange volatility, CountryWide says it will hedge 100% of the estimated net income for five years. In addition, CountryWide will also hedge the capital value of the US acquisitions.

CountryWide CEO Kylie Rampa says the acquisitions take CountryWide’s US portfolio from 23 to 27 properties, increasing its exposure to the US market from 29% of total assets to 33%. “These acquisitions meet our key investment criteria including adding to income growth, increasing portfolio diversity and providing secure income from recognised market leading anchor tenants,” says Rampa.

CountryWide now owns 81 supermarket based shopping centers in Australia, 27 in the US and 17 in New Zealand. Additionally, CountryWide has seven redevelopments in Australia underway as well as six new projects.

Regency is the leading US national owner, operator and developer of grocery-anchored neighborhood retail centers. Regency owns 262 retail properties, including joint venture interests, totaling $US3.2 billion. CountryWide’s joint venture relationship with Regency was established in June 2001 and today has total assets of approximately $560 million.

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