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Westfield high-growth opportunity in Brazil

It seems that Westfield Group’s (ASX: WDC) business in Brazil is not over. The group is now said to be very interested in acquiring a share in the Port City project located in Marvelous Port, Rio de Janeiro, thought to be worth around AU$1.64 billion.

Back in April, the property giant exited from its joint venture project with Brazilian company Almeida Junior, which saw it sell its share of the $440 million alliance covering five assets. Westfield’s co-chief executive, Steven Lowy, stated that the company had exited from the alliance because “the partnership was not conductive to the achievement of the group’s long-term objectives in Brazil.”

At the time, he also stated that the group would “review opportunities” to re-enter the Brazilian market which, alongside China, is one of the most important locations for shopping centre groups to break into, due to the country’s enormous growth potential. A move back into Brazil would offer Westfield potential to expand in an area that currently has a lack of quality competitors, as reported by The Australian.

Currently, the group – along with local players including Related Brazil, Bueno Netto and BNCorp – is awaiting approval to go ahead with the project from government-owned bank Caixa Economica Federal. A decision is expected to arrive shortly. Should it receive the required approval, construction on the shopping centre could begin by early 2014 and would be expected to be complete by 2020.

Furthermore, the retail development of the project, which Westfield would solely undertake, would take around three and a half years to complete and would take up around 80,000 square metres, with the potential to expand to as great as 125,000 square metres in the future.

Foolish takeaway

It was disappointing when Westfield exited the Brazilian project earlier this year, as it presented as an excellent opportunity for further global growth. Whilst that didn’t work out according to plan, acquiring the Port City project would be excellent news for investors as the company continues with its global operating strategy.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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