The Westfield Group entered an agreement to sell a majority interest in seven of its non-core U.S. retail assets to Starwood Capital Group for $1 billion. Starwood will manage and control the platform, while Westfield will retain a 10 percent interest in the properties.

Westfield and Starwood expect to close the transaction in the second quarter of 2012.

An undisclosed buyer also agreed to purchase Westfield’s Eastland property, an 844,297-sq.-ft. power center in West Covina, Calif., for $147 million. That transaction should close within 45 days.

“Today’s announcement represents a further step in our strategic plan to increase return on equity and long term earnings growth,” said Westfield Group Co-CEO Peter Lowy in a statement. “The proceeds from the transactions will initially pay down corporate debt and then be redeployed in higher return development opportunities in the U.S., including the World Trade Center.”

The centers purchased by Starwood total 6.607 million sq. ft. of space and are located in Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, Florida and California. As of December 2011, they were 93.8 percent leased and featured $373 in sales per sq. ft. on an aggregate basis. The centers include 1.657-million-sq.-ft. SouthPark in Cleveland, Ohio, 1.052-million-sq.-ft. Solano in Fairfield, Calif., 971,025-sq.-ft. Louis Joliet in Chicago, 969,524-sq.-ft. Gateway in Lincoln, Neb., 838,608-sq.-ft. Chicago Ridge in Chicago, 836,215-sq.-ft. Westland in Miami and 281,933-sq.-ft. Metreon in San Francisco.

Metreon is currently under redevelopment.