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Blackstone Said to Buy 7 Australian Offices From GE Capital

Blackstone Group LP, the largest manager of private-equity real estate funds, is poised to buy seven Australian office buildings from GE Capital Real Estate for A$290 million ($262 million), according to three people familiar with the matter.

Blackstone is expected to complete the purchase within a week, according to the people, who asked for anonymity as the deal hasn’t been finalized. The New York-based private-equity firm, which oversees $229.6 billion in assets, will borrow about 70 percent of the funds for the purchase from GE Capital as part of the deal, one of the people said.

GE Capital in May agreed to sell seven office buildings in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney to Australian property trust Mirvac Group for A$584 million, as it shifts from real estate management to lending. Blackstone’s strategy in Australia has been to buy lower-quality assets that need redevelopment or leasing work.

Blackstone is among investors investing or expanding Australian commercial property holdings, with the amount of overseas capital seeking office buildings climbing to A$11 billion as of March 31 from A$9 billion three months earlier, broker Colliers International estimated in a report this month. The proportion of foreign buyers of commercial real estate climbed to more than 42 percent of all purchasers in 2012 from 12 percent four years earlier, the broker said.

Paul Heller, Sydney-based managing director at Blackstone, didn’t immediately respond to a voice-mail message seeking comment on the purchase. A Sydney-based spokeswoman for GE Capital, who asked for her name not to be used, declined to comment.

The properties, most of which are considered B or B+ quality assets, are located in major Australian cities including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, one of the people said.

The Australian Financial Review and the Australian newspapers earlier reported the transaction.

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