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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-Centro Properties Group has asked the Australian Stock Exchange to halt its trading until Wednesday, as it negotiates with lenders to refinance more than $2.5 billion in debt. Unlike the Chicago-based General Growth Properties difficulties this weekend, Centro’s lenders are expected to give in to a request for loan extensions.

Centro, which has 780 shopping centers in the US, Australia and New Zealand, said in an annual report on Nov. 28 that if the lending group does not extend the agreements, the company would be in default of its debt covenants, and faces receivership. However, it was reported late Sunday that the lenders, which include Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of America, Wachovia and JPMorgan, are agreeing to the extension. Centro officials could not be reached for comment.

In the Nov. 28 report, company officials detailed what is being done to right the ship, including the separation of Centro and Centro Retail Trust, and finding new revenue methods. “Sourcing of new equity has not been successful in this difficult environment,” said CEO Glenn Rufrano. “Our objective would be to negotiate a longer term debt extension to stabilize our company, which includes a hybrid security. We believe that the company’s skills in operating this retail portfolio will maximize its value and returns to all stakeholders.”

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