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WTC leased to Silverstein, Westfield

By CNN's Geoff Hiscock, Asia business editor

SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Control of New York's World Trade Center passed from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey only seven weeks ago to Silverstein Properties and the U.S. unit of Australian shopping center group Westfield.

Silverstein and Westfield reached agreement in late April with the Port Authority to lease the office and retail components respectively of the WTC for 99 years.

The leases were worth an estimated $3.2 billion on a present value basis.

They covered 10.6 million square feet of office space in the now-destroyed twin towers and two nine-level buildings, and 427,000 square feet of retail space in the shopping mall. The Mall had 75 specialty stores, restaurants and service retailers.

Career ambition for Silverstein

Silverstein Properties president Larry Silverstein said in July when he took the lease in partnership with Westfield America CEO Peter Lowy that it had been a career ambition to own the World Trade Center.

Lowy called it a thrill to invest "in this great city".

In a statement Wednesday, Westfield Holdings said the company was shocked at the events in the U.S. It said of the 10 Westfield staff working in the building, one of its executives was unaccounted for.

It also said Westfield America Trust's investment in the retail component of the World Trade Center was "fully insured for both capital and loss of income."

"The insurance cover includes acts of terrorism," it said.

Westfield said the destruction of the WTC was not expected to have a material impact on the distribution of Westfield America Trust, nor on the earnings of Westfield Holdings.

Founder Lowy among Australia's richest

Westfield founder Frank Lowy ranks as Australia's second richest man behind media tycoon Kerry Packer, with a personal fortune of Aust $3.5 billion, according to business magazine BRW.

Westfield paid $488 million on August 27 for a 23.9 percent stake in the Dutch-based property group Rodamco North America.

Since then it has pressured RNA to look at merging their U.S. operations. RNA has a portfolio of 41 U.S. shopping centers, while Westfield has interests in 39 major shopping centers.

On the Australian stock market Wednesday, shares in Westfield Holdings were initially halted. After trading resumed it closed 5 percent down at A$16.70.

• Westfield America
• Westfield Holdings
• Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

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