(Corrects Stockland's current market cap in 2nd graf, and the
currency in 3rd graf)
By Byron Kaye
SYDNEY, March 19 Australia's Stockland
Corporation Ltd said on Wednesday it bought a 19.9
percent stake in smaller rival Australand Property Group
, laying the foundation for a possible A$11 billion
($10.05 billion) property giant.
A full takeover of Australand would cement Stockland's
position as one of Australia's largest property companies,
adding A$2.2 billion to its current A$8.9 billion market
Stockland confirmed the acquisition as Singapore's
CapitaLand Ltd said it sold its remaining 39.1 percent
stake in Australand for about A$849 million.
Australand has been seen as a takeover target since
CapitaLand said it wanted to sell what was a 59 percent stake in
early 2013. Stockland has been seen as a likely buyer of some or
all of the business.
"They'll probably go for the whole thing," said one property
analyst who asked not to be named because he was not authorised
to comment publicly.
Stockland said it bought the stake for an average of A$3.78
per stapled security, amounting to about A$435 million.
"Over time this holding will enable us to explore strategic
opportunities with Australand," Stockland CEO and Managing
Director Mark Steinert said in a statement.
Asked if this was a reference to a further acquisition of
Australand stock, a Stockland spokesman declined to comment.
CapitaLand said it sold the stake to simplify its structure
and redeploy the funds in Singapore and China.
Last year CapitaLand cut its stake in Australand to 39.1
percent from 59.1 percent at a loss to pursue new opportunities,
even though an earlier strategic review had concluded Australand
was a key investment.
Australand securities were placed on a trading halt on
Wednesday. Stockland shares were 2.3 percent lower at A$3.76 in
a flat overall market.
($1 = 1.0950 Australian Dollars)
(Additional reporting by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Richard
Pullin and Stephen Coates)