Westfield to buy remaining 50 pct in World Trade Center for $800 mln

SYDNEY Wed Dec 4, 2013 6:49pm EST

SYDNEY Dec 5 (Reuters) - Shopping mall giant Westfield Group said on Thursday it would buy the remaining 50 percent interest in New York's World Trade Center for $800 million, which will make the company the sole owner of the shopping mall.

This purchase comes one day after the company announced its plans to separate global retail assets from its Australia and New Zealand businesses, which will then be merged with Westfield Retail Trust (WRT) to form a new company.

The restructuring has been seen as a strategy to focus on the company's growth in U.S. and UK international assets, as traditional Australian retailers are struggling with slowing growth and a shift to online shopping.

Westfield is buying the remaining 50 percent interest from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which entered into a joint venture with Westfield last year.

The $800 million purchase brings Westfield's total investment in the World Trade Center to more than $1.4 billion, with the transaction expected to close in the next 30 to 45 days.

The price is subject to a one-time additional contingent payment to the Port Authority within five years of the opening date if Westfield exceeds certain return thresholds, the company said.

The World Trade Center, still under construction, is expected to open in 2015.

(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Michael Perry)