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LONDON-Westfield has revealed intentions to make a joint cash bid of its euro 793 million ($977 million) for Chelsfield. The Australian shopping center specialist had originally stated its plan to go it alone but will now link up with Multiplex, which has a 6% stake in Chelsfield, and the Reuben brothers who have a 34% stake in the company. By bringing together a 40% stake in Chelsfield, Westfield has made it even more difficult for the Chelsfield board to mount a successful defense. It also prevents the escalation of a bidding war between the Australians, both of whom had made separate offers for the company.

The new joint bid will be submitted formally in the next few days, but city insiders expect it to be very similar to the one Westfield launched a week ago. That is, its euro 793-million ($977-million) cash offer and the assumption of debt thereby valuing the company at euro 2.9 billion ($3.6 billion). Westfield is expected to contribute euro 1.7 billion ($2.2 billion) with the other parties splitting the remaining euro 1.3 billion ($1.6 billion) between them.

Under the consortium terms, the assets of Chelsfield will be divided among the parties with Westfield securing the euro 2.9-billion ($3.6-billion) Merry Hill shopping center development near Birmingham and stakes in a number of other projects. The acquisition would raise the company’s UK investment from euro 1.4 billion to euro 2.15 billion ($2.7 billion). White City, Chelsfield’s proposed euro 2.9-billion ($3.6-billion) shopping center project in West London, is expected to be split 50/50 between Westfield and the other two JV partners.

The three-party bid also suits Multiplex, which was at risk of losing the construction contracts on some of Chelsfield’s big development projects if it did not bid. But Multiplex is currently involved back home in a $1.3-billion takeover of Ronin, and this prompted analysts to question whether the company had the funding and resources to out-bid Westfield.

A research note put out by Merrill Lynch before the announcement says: “The key risk is that Multiplex loses the potential construction and development pipeline within Chelsfield. This is critical since one of the key positives of Multiplex’s investment in Chelsfield was the future development and construction pipeline.”

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