The downscaling of what was New Zealand's largest mall owner and manager continues, after approval of a $445 million shopping centre deal.

ASX listed Scentre Group owned and managed a string of malls here, all branded as Westfield.

But it has been progressively selling many and now the Overseas Investment Office has granted NZX listed Stride Property Group approval to purchase Scentre's Westfield Queensgate in Lower Hutt and Westfield Chartwell in Hamilton.

Westfield once owned and managed 12 malls spread from Auckland to Christchurch. In November, Stride said its wholesale investment vehicle, Diversified NZ Property Fund Limited, had entered into an agreement with entities owned by Scentre to buy the two malls.


Today, Stride said that $445 million acquisition got approval and the deal was expected to settle on August 22.

Westfield arrived in New Zealand in April 1997, initially running shopping centres for St Lukes Group, which had its genesis in Fletcher Challenge.

Scentre was once the dominant mall business throughout this country. But by last December, the only New Zealand mall it fully owned was Henderson's Westfield WestCity and even that was up for sale. Scentre still owns 51 per cent of malls at Albany, Manukau, Newmarket, Riccarton and St Lukes but has sold many assets.

In March last year, it sold a 49 per cent stake of those five malls to GIC, the Singaporean Government's sovereign wealth fund.

But Scentre does plan a big expansion of Newmarket and St Lukes and a Scentre spokeswoman in Auckland said it would be wrong to think the business did not have a big commitment to New Zealand.

Properties worth at least $2.9 billion were under management and the business was still classed as one of the largest New Zealand shopping centres and managers, she said.

Scentre was committed to the New Zealand market, she said.