Wesfarmers Sells 75% Stake in 19 Coles Centers

Wesfarmers Ltd., Australia’s second-largest retailer, will sell a 75 percent stake in 19 shopping centers owned by its Coles unit to property fund manager ISPT Pty Ltd. for about A$400 million ($414 million).

The two companies formed a venture to hold the shopping centers, which are valued at about A$532 million, Wesfarmers said in a regulatory statement today. The Perth, Australia-based company will retain a 25 percent stake in the centers and continue to manage them.

“ISPT and Coles will also look to place further properties into the joint venture as opportunities arise,” Wesfarmers said.

Wesfarmers, which also owns mines, chemical companies, and an investment bank, has spent five years turning around the Coles group of supermarkets and department stores it bought for about A$19.7 billion in 2007. Larger rival Woolworth’s Ltd. in October said it planned to spin off 69 stores and shopping malls valued at A$1.41 billion into a real estate investment trust and offer existing investors shares in the new REIT.

Wesfarmers, Australia’s largest employer, owns Target and Kmart discount department stores and Bunnings hardware outlets. ISPT is an Australian unlisted property fund with A$8 billion of funds under management, according to its website.

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