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LONDON-Two of the UK’s biggest property companies are in negotiations for a massive property swap with Slough picking up the industrial portfolio and LandSec the retail one. Slough is to buy euro 371.6 million ($452 million) worth of LandSec’s industrial portfolio in return for four of Slough’s shopping centers. They are the 265,000-sf Surrey Quays center in Rotherhithe, the 240,000-foot Howard Centre in Welwyn, the 350,000-sf Lewisham Centre in South-east London and the 105,000-foot Bishop Centre in Taplow near Maidenhead.

The negotiations were made possible by the decision of LandSec to divest its euro 595.4-million ($723-million) industrial portfolio to focus on retail, outsourcing and central London offices and Slough’s intention to focus primarily on business space. “Given the quality of our industrial portfolio, together with our wish to acquire further retail properties, we sought a property swap as an efficient way to achieve this aim,” says LandSec’s group chief executive Francis Salway. “The acquisition of Slough’s shopping centers will reinforce the strength of our position in the retail market.”

“We have excellent retail assets,” observes Slough chief executive Ian Coull, “but our retail portfolio is too small to give us meaningful sector diversification, and therefore it is attractive for us to exchange our shopping centers for core-business property. Land Securities’ business space portfolio fits very well with our existing properties and represents a one-off opportunity to acquire a substantial industrial portfolio in the south-east of England. The swap will further consolidate our position as the dominant player in UK business space.”

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