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CORRECT: Singapore's GIC expands NZ presence, buying into 5 Westfield malls

GIC, the Singaporean investment fund, has entered a joint venture with Scentre Group, the trans-Tasman Westfield mall owner and operator, paying $1 billion to take a 49 percent stake in five New Zealand shopping centres.

Under the joint venture, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund will invest in four malls in Auckland and one in Christchurch, worth $2.1 billion, the listed owner of Westfield said in a statement to the ASX. It is GIC's second property investment in New Zealand, after earlier this week announcing a $313 million partnership with Goodman Property Trust developing its Viaduct corporate centre on Auckland's waterfront. Both are pending approval from New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office.

GIC and Scentre already own Westfield Parramatta and Westfield Whitford City together in Australia. Scentre will use the proceeds from the latest deal to repay debt, and expects to complete the transaction before the end of the year.

The recent property investments by the sovereign wealth fund, which manages over US$100 billion worth of assets on behalf of the city-state's government, has been the target of anti-immigration and foreign investment MP Winston Peters.

Shares of Scentre last traded at A$3.61, and has gained 17 percent since the start of the year.