Property group Liberty International is in negotiations to merge with a major rival to become the world’s largest shopping mall group.

The FTSE 100 property group, which owns London’s Covent Garden, has been linked to potential suitors including Australia’s Westfield Group – which has a long-standing interest in Liberty International – and GIC Real Estate, the property arm of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.

GIC Real Estate’s shopping mall portfolio includes investments in Bluewater, as well as Romaest in Rome, Sunway Pyramid Mall in Malaysia and Queen Victoria Building in Sydney, Australia.

Westfield is the world’s largest owner of shopping centres and is believed to want to target the UK for growth.

Liberty International has a market value of£3.41 billion and property investments of£8.6 billion, of which UK regional shopping centres make up 75 per cent. It has stakes in Lakeside, the Victoria Centre in Nottingham, Manchester Arndale and the mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol.