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25 Elul 5761, Thursday Sep. 13, 2001 Last updated: (06:43)

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Former Israeli owns retail lease for World Trade Center
By Sharon Berger

September 12, 16:55 -- Australian businessman Frank Lowy, who emigrated to Australia from Israel in 1952, owns the 99-year lease for the 425,000 square foot retail portion of the destroyed World Trade Center.

Lowy is the chairman and founder of Westfield Holdings, the manager of Westfield America Trust, which has a 57 percent stake in Westfield America Inc. In April Westfield America agreed to pay $400 million for the lease on the complex though only $133m. was paid upfront. The rest was to be made in ground lease payments.

Westfield said today that it has insurance cover against terrorist attacks and its earnings will not be materially affected. In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange the retail chain said that "investment in the retail component of the World Trade Center is fully insured for both capital and loss of income," adding "the insurance cover includes acts of terrorism."

The company also said that a senior New York executive was missing.

"The financial impact in the short term is probably immaterial but you don't know the broader implications of ongoing insurance costs and retail consumer confidence," Andrew Parsons, portfolio manager at Lend Lease Corp., told Bloomberg News.

Ironically, earlier this week, Westfield America Inc. said it planned to double some rents and build more space to increase profit from the mall at New York's World Trade Center. Westfield Holding's shares closed today down by 5.1% at 16.7 Australian dollars.

Lowy, who was born in Czechoslovakia in 1930 and grew up in Hungary, survived the Holocaust and immigrated to Palestine at age 15. He fought in Israel's War of Independence and in 1952, emigrated to Australia to join his family. In Sydney he started out running a delicatessen with his Hungarian-born partner John Sanders. In 1956 they founded a company called Westfield and in 1958 opened their first small shopping center. The firm went public in 1960.

Today he is the second wealthiest man in Australia and was recently ranked as the 209th wealthiest man in the world by Forbes magazine. Westfield is the fourth-largest shopping mall owner, with operations in Australia, the US, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Lowy is philanthropically involved in the Jewish community in Sydney as well
as Israel, including sponsoring the Overseas Students School of Tel Aviv
University which is endowed in his name and being associate international
chairman of the Israel Democracy Institute.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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