Bankers to the financially stricken Centro Properties are expected to sign a deal today that will throw the giant retail landlord a financial lifeline.

The group's two syndicates of lenders are tipped to give Centro more time to repay its mountain of debts, seeing the company's plight as a bellwether of how well the domestic and US economies will be able to resist current recessionary pressures.

Centro is the second biggest retail landlord in Australia, after Westfield, and is in the top 10 in the United States.

It has about $2.3bn of debt that must be rolled over or paid for by close of business today, while a further $US450m ($A684m) owed to private US noteholders also falls due.

The Age