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LONDON-Westfield, Multiplex and the Reuben brothers have formally launched their euro 845.6-million ($1-billion) bid for Chelsfield but already have acceptances from shareholders with a combined 87% stake in the company.

As part of the deal with Elliott Bernerd, who founded Chelsfield 18 years ago, the company name will be retained as well its headquarters in Mayfair.

When Chelsfield’s debt is taken into account, the bid will be worth euro 3 billion ($ 3.8 billion), with Westfield investing euro 1.7 billion ($2.2 billion) and Multiplex and the Reubens vehicle, Aldersgate, splitting the remaining euro 1.3 billion ($1.6 billion) 50-50. The move would strengthen Westfield s UK presence and lift its investment from euro 1.4 billion ($1.7 billion) to about euro 3.1 billion ($3.9 billion) with interests in seven centres.

Under the new arrangement, Westfield and Multiplex each take a 25% stake in London’s White City mall, which will be the capital’s largest retail centre. It is less clear who takes what stake in Merry Hill in the West Midlands, or the development of a new town, known as Stratford City, to the east of London. Chelsfield is currently seeking approval from the Deputy Prime Minister for the complex but this is expected to be granted given the government’s backing for a major development in the south-east of England.

The UK is a big retail market, with 60 million people spending more than euro 303.4 billion ($378.6 billion) each year, but the country only has six super-regional shopping centres. Westfield estimates it has a similar number of managed shopping centres as the much smaller Australian market. But the total retail floor space per person in the UK is about two-thirds that in Australia.

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