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The Sydney Morning Herald

Lend Lease weighs options

Author: Carolyn Cummins
Date: 31/08/2002
Words: 260
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Property
Page: 64
So what is happening at Lend Lease? Are investors likely to see a sale of the real estate investment (REI) business, paring the group back to its beginnings as a construction company?

With chief executive David Higgins telling analysts he is expected to leave the company at Christmas, speculation is rife that a large strategic deal for the US REI business is in the wind.

He has openly stated his last few months are being spent working on a plan to expand the division by offering new products and a wider distribution network. That will come through an alliance with a larger network or even through a listed vehicle in the US.

However there has also been speculation that turning around the US REI could prove just too hard and the board may ditch the whole division.

The group has been vague on these rumours, saying every option is being examined, but it was keen to dismiss suggestions a buy-back was imminent.

Fund managers have already made threatening noises about Lend Lease undertaking the unpopular path of simply selling the division.

Brokers have forecast that if the group sticks to its guns and gets a firm distribution network established in the US, possibly even through a real estate investment trust, similar to its General Property Trust in Australia, then the group will have a chance of redeeming its loss of face, not to mention share value.

BNP Paribas has forecast a 12-month price target of $14, saying Lend Lease was ``past its darkest hour".

 
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