Macquarie Centre set for new look, ownership structure

THE long-awaited $400 million upgrade of the Macquarie Centre shopping mall in North Ryde is slated to start in late November, and the mall's ownership structure is likely to be resolved.

It is owned by AMP and Westfield under a joint venture, but there are suggestions the deal will be dissolved and AMP emerge as full owner.

Under the arrangements, Westfield and AMP co-manage 10 shopping centres worth $9.2 billion.

But last month it was said a deal to undo the joint venture, covering about six assets, was imminent.

Westfield's management has previously said it would only keep centres that provide development potential. Some assets in the joint venture, such as Warringah Mall in Sydney, Knox City in Melbourne and Mount Gravatt, Brisbane, will appeal to Westfield.

That would leave AMP to take full ownership of the Macquarie Centre, Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast and Booragoon, Perth.

Simon Garing at Bank of America Merrill Lynch recently said any deal would have minimum earnings impact on Westfield.

''While Westfield Retail Trust's [which also owns a half share in some of the centres with Westfield] role remains unclear, we expect it would participate equally with Westfield in any deal. In total, such a transaction would require a net $600 million payment to AMP,'' Mr Garing said.

In a letter to Macquarie Centre tenants yesterday, the centre's manager, Robert Caruana, said the project would be staged from about November 24, to minimise disruption to shoppers.

The first stage will be opened in about mid 2014 and will include a new David Jones store of about 14,000 square metres over two levels.

An extra 16,000 square metres of specialty shops will be added, with new parking access off Talavera Road, a new supermarket, and an upgraded food court. It will be one of the largest redevelopments of a suburban mall in the past five years after Westfield's Miranda and Bondi Junction projects.

It is expected the centre will also focus on entertainment, which is a key attraction for visitors in that part of Sydney, which includes the nearby Macquarie University.

The story Macquarie Centre set for new look, ownership structure first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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