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Germany's LEG Immobilien considers foreign expansion, merger cast-offs

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FILE PHOTO: An office building of the German property group Deutsche Wohnen is pictured in Berlin
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By Matthias Inverardi

DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - German property group LEG Immobilien is looking at expanding abroad and would also consider buying flats from Vonovia or Deutsche Wohnen should their merger go through, its CEO told Reuters on Tuesday.

Germany's two biggest listed landlords Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen have revived merger plans that are controversial in Germany because of tensions over soaring rents ahead of general elections in September.

Executives have promised a merged company would work with politicians to provide affordable housing and they have said they would consider selling up to 25,000 properties to finance their proposed merger.

"If there are opportunities abroad we would look at that," CEO Lars von Lackum said in an interview, adding that neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands or Denmark were of interest.

Von Lackum said LEG would be interested in apartments owned by peers Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen if they come on to the market.

"We are ready," he told Reuters. Vonovia launched a new takeover offer for Deutsche Wohnen on Aug. 23 at 53 euros a share which, if backed by shareholders, would create a real estate colossus with 550,000 flats.LEG, which floated on the German stock market in 2013 and has a market capitalisation of 9.9 billion euros ($11.7 billion), owns a portfolio of 145,000 rental apartments that is concentrated in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

($1 = 0.8480 euros)

(Reporting by Matthas Inverardi, Writing by Douglas Busvine; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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