- The Washington Times - Friday, February 17, 2006

Shopping center owner Westfield Group Ltd. plans to buy 15 department stores from Federated Department Stores Inc., including the Hecht’s location in Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton, which it owns.

Federated announced in July it planned to sell off 84 stores in shopping centers where it had two properties following the August acquisition of May Department Stores Co., which owned the Hecht’s chain, for $11 billion.

Westfield is an Australian company that owns shopping centers in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and the United States, including in Wheaton, Annapolis and Bethesda.

The Sydney-based company, the largest international owner of shopping centers by market value, has not decided what it would do with the Hecht’s store in Wheaton or the other properties, a spokeswoman said yesterday.

The other stores are in Ohio, Connecticut and California in shopping centers it owns.

The transactions are scheduled to be completed in two steps: in the first, Westfield would buy 12 stores in exchange for Federated acquiring 12 stores it leases from Westfield.

A Federated spokesman declined to say which 12 stores the company would acquire, but said none is in the Washington area.

In the second step, Westfield would buy the three other stores for $18.5 million. Federated expects to lease the shops back and operate them as Macy’s.

The stores, under the nameplates of Macy’s, Robinsons-May and the Hecht’s in Wheaton, began clearance sales in late January.

The transactions are expected to be completed in the second quarter.

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