GPT still interested in making an offer for Australand assets

GPT Group is still eyeing the development, commercial and industrial assets of rival Australand.

GPT Group is still eyeing the development, commercial and industrial assets of rival Australand.

Speaking at the first-quarter results on Tuesday, chief executive Michael Cameron said the group remained "committed to submitting a deal" but declined to elaborate.

GPT launched an indicative and non-binding offer for most of Australand, except its residential business, in December, but the bid was rejected as being too low.

Although no price was disclosed, analysts valued the targeted Australand businesses at about $3 billion.

Since then, Australand's major shareholder, CapitaLand, has said it is reviewing its stake for a possible sale. Australand established a data room for all prospective offers, but no firm bid has arrived yet.

At the annual meeting last week, Australand chairman Olivier Lim told shareholders confidential information had been provided to pre-qualified parties as part of the process.

"No conclusion has been reached at this point, and I would like to emphasise that there is no guarantee that any proposal will be developed for securityholders' consideration," Mr Lim said.

"The management team and our advisers are focused on bringing the process to a conclusion as efficiently as possible and we will advise the market of the outcome in due course."

Mr Cameron said the Australand review had not been expensive since most of the work had been done internally.

He said it was unlikely GPT would need to raise equity for any move on Australand's businesses.

"We are concentrating on advancing a proposal and then we can talk about the funding," Mr Cameron said.

He said GPT's general operations remained strong despite the softer office leasing market and weaker retail sales, mainly in the discount and general variety categories.

Mr Cameron said GPT maintained a full-year 2013 guidance of "at least 5 per cent" growth in earnings per share.

Analysts at Moelis & Co said the update was "benign", with the main issue going forward being the "extremely challenging office market GPT was facing while having to deal with large expiries".

These lease expiries include law firm Freehill, which is leaving the MLC Centre in Sydney later this year to become a major tenant for the new 161 Castlereagh Street headquarters, which is part-owned by the GPT Wholesale Office Fund and Grocon.

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