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Westfield posts loss of US$1.4b

THE world's largest listed shopping mall operator, Westfield Group, said it expects growth in the Australian and New Zealand retail market after reporting an annual net loss of A$2.2 billion (US$1.4 billion) yesterday.

The Sydney-based company, which owns and manages 119 shopping malls in the United States and Britain, as well as Australia and New Zealand, said its operating earnings for 2008 rose 10.4 percent to A$1.94 billion.

"Strong performance from the Australian portfolio during the year has offset a deterioration of retail fundamentals in the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand," Managing Directors Peter and Steven Lowy said in a statement.

Westfield's bottom line loss came after A$3.3 billion was lopped off asset valuations and A$1.3 billion was lost to market adjustments of financial instruments.

"All the indicators out of Australia seem to be strong, the consumer is still spending, we are seeing good growth in our centers as we did in 2008," Steven Lowy said.

"We would be confident that we can achieve from Australia and New Zealand 3 or 4 percent growth in 2009, and that's clearly offset by small reductions in the UK and the US," he said.


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