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Australia's Westfield offloads five US malls

Australian shopping centre giant Westfield Corp. said Monday it has offloaded five US malls for US$1.1 billion as it continues its strategy of divesting non-core assets, AFP reports.

The company, one of the world's largest shopping centre operators, will use the proceeds to reduce debt exposure and help fund its US$11.4 billion development programme. 

"Our strategic focus is to create and operate flagship assets in leading markets and divest non-core assets," Westfield co-chief executive Peter Lowy said in a statement.

"Today's announcement marks a significant milestone in our divestment strategy." 

The five malls sold -- in Connecticut, Illinois, California and Washington -- are Connecticut Post, Fox Valley, Hawthorn, MainPlace, and Vancouver. 

The buyer is a newly formed joint-venture comprising Centennial Real Estate, Montgomery Street Partners and USAA Real Estate.

Westfield has interests in 44 shopping centres in the United States, Britain and Europe, with assets under management of more than US$25 billion.

It has progressively moved to sell non-core assets and focus on new flagship properties, including its US$1.4 billion World Trade Center project in New York.

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