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Watt, Centro Buy 14 Malls

October 29, 2003|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

Santa Monica real estate investor Watt Commercial Properties and Centro Properties Group of Australia have purchased a portfolio of 14 California shopping centers valued at $488 million.

The centers have a combined total of more than 3.1 million square feet and were sold by M&H Realty Partners in a deal that closed last week. The portfolio will be held by a newly formed private real estate investment trust called Centro Watt American REIT.

The trust will manage the portfolio as well as other retail properties that the joint venture may develop or acquire in the future, said Jim Maginn, chief executive of Watt Commercial Properties.

"This is Centro's first investment in the United States and we expect that it is just the first step in the expansion of Centro's presence to North America," Maginn said.

Centro is a retail real estate investment and management firm that has controlling interest in 30 shopping centers in Australia.

Watt owns and develops commercial property. It also manages more than 10 million square feet of office, apartment, industrial and retail buildings.

Among the 14 California shopping centers the companies bought are Esplanade Shopping Center in Oxnard, Mira Mesa Mall in San Diego, Puente Hills Town Center in Rowland Heights and Santa Fe Springs Mall in Santa Fe Springs.

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