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LONDON-Westfield has paid Multiplex and the Reuben Brothers euro 94.45 million ($119.2 million) for their 25% stake in the White City shopping center development. The three parties gained 50% control of the scheme after they formed the Duelguide consortium that bought Chelsfield in December. The purchase of the additional interest in the White City development will increase Westfield’s ownership to 50% on project completion. German open-ended fund CGI owns the remaining 50% in the project.

So far, Westfield’s estimated investment in White City totals euro 1.3 billion ($1.6 billion). That includes the acquisition of a 50% stake in the two-stage development and additional costs incurred through changes in the design and build. The initial yield is expected to be in the range of 5.75% to 6.0%. Westfield will fund its share of the development euro one-billion ($1.36-billion) cost only on completion of the project, expected to be in the first half of 2008.

Westfield executives also said that the firm has been appointed development manager and leasing agent for the project. They said that the White City project is expected to be completed in the first half of 2008 and will have around 1.6 million sf of retail and leisure space, making it the largest shopping center in Greater London. Multiplex is the builder.

But Multiplex shareholders did not receive the news well, and shares fell more than 6% to A$3.37 since the announcement. One analyst said investors were still jittery after Multiplex’s shock news in February that it would make no money on its flagship Wembley Stadium project. He added that investors had viewed White City as a strategic investment.

Multiplex said in a statement it was selling its minority interest, equating to 12.5%, so it could “concentrate on its significant development pipeline in the UK.” The statement added: “Multiplex’s preference is not to hold minority interests in assets except in circumstances where it has a role as asset manager and fund manager.”

In the meantime, as a result of the sale, Multiplex is fighting what it terms “rumours” that the sale had been forced on it by financiers. Its shares slumped 13% in Sydney after the company said it had sold its 12.5% stake in White City.

After it made it’s public protest of these reports, the stock recovered 2% and this morning was trading at about A$3.23. The company has also stated that it has substantial cash reserves and debt facilities. It added that the company had been subjected to “unfounded market speculation regarding the group’s solvency and the possible involvement of the group’s financiers in this and other recent asset sales.”

Multiplex officials say the group “continues to have substantial cash at hand and today has available to it undrawn debt lines in excess of $400 million.” The officials restated thar commitment to overseas expansion particularly in the UK.

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