Super giant eyes Lend Lease’s UK gem

AustralianSuper joins shopping giant Westfield as a contender for Lend Lease’s stake in the Bluewater centre.

The nation’s largest industry super fund AustralianSuper and shopping giant Westfield have emerged as contenders for Lend Lease’s £550 million ($996m) stake in the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.

The Australian investment heavies are competing against some of the world’s largest real estate investors for the slice of the prime mall, with US groups Hines and Simon Property Group also said to have lobbed bids for Lend Lease’s 30 per cent stake in the £2 billion centre.

Also in the mix is British Land, which has teamed with Norges Bank Investment Management, the investment manager for the government pension fund of Norway — the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, according to reports from London.

British shopping centre owner Hammerson, Intu Properties and Land Securities have also reportedly bid on the centre.

M & G Real Estate, which owns a 17.5 per cent stake in Bluewater, is also understood to have shown interest.

The centre, one of the biggest in Britain, was developed by Lend Lease and opened in 1999.

Lend Lease has long flagged the sale of its stake in the mall but only last year moved to appoint Morgan Stanley to handle the sale process.

“We have said previously that we will look to sell our 30 per cent interest in Bluewater when the time is right,” a spokeswoman for Lend Lease said.

“We have since received significant interest with regard to the asset and any sale will be structured to maximise security holder value.”

Lend Lease was expected to channel the proceeds from the sale into existing development projects in London and Sydney.

AustralianSuper and Westfield declined to comment.

Lend Lease shares yesterday closed down 2c to $12.84.