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LONDON-Liberty International has increased its interest in the Eldon Square Shopping Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, from 45% to 60% with the acquisition of units in the Eldon Square Unit Trust, which holds a 15% interest in the center.

The euro 77-million ($72-million) payment is in line with the group’s June 2005 valuation. At the same time, Capital Shopping Centres has signed a Co-operation Agreement with the City of Newcastle, owner of the remaining 40%, which facilitates extending the term of CSC’s leasehold interest from 70 years to 250 years. CSC manages the center.

CSC has planning consent for a euro 249-million ($303-million) development project for the remodelling and extension of Eldon Square, providing some 480,000 sf of new retail space including a new department store, large format retail units, a new bus station and improved pedestrian access.

Enabling work has been under way for some months and construction of the project referred to as ES West is now on site, providing seven large retail units on the busy Blackettbridge mall and two new restaurants at ground level, overlooking Old Eldon Square.

The new shops will be open for Christmas trade 2006. Work on the other two phases will commence during 2006 with completions between 2007 and 2009.

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