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Australia's Scentre sells Sydney office towers for A$1.5 billion

[SYDNEY] Australian shopping mall owner Scentre Group on Thursday said it has disposed of its Sydney CBD office towers for A$1.52 billion (S$1.44 billion) and announced a share buyback programme worth A$800 million.

The company said it sold the office towers to certain funds managed by US-based private equity firm Blackstone Group.

Scentre will grant a 299-year leasehold interest to Blackstone over the office components, the company said.

The sale proceeds will result in dilution of about 0.4 Australia cents per security to funds from operations (FFO) in 2019, the Australian firm said, adding that the forecast distribution for 2019 remained unchanged at 22.60 cents per security.

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Last month, Scentre announced the sale of a 50 per cent stake in the Westfield Burwood shopping centre for about A$575 million, to privately held property investor Perron Group.

Shortly after both transactions were completed, Scentre said it plans to launch an A$800 million buyback programme after its 2019 half-year results on August 22.

Scentre shares rose after the announcement, trading up 1.3 per cent, as of 0347 GMT, while the broader benchmark was little changed.

REUTERS