Westfield To Be Acquired By Europe-Based Mall Operator

13 December, 2017, 06:05 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Westfield malls

The deal makes it possible for Unibail-Rodamco, Europe's largest publicly traded commercial real estate company, to expand into "new attractive real estate markets", including London and wealthy areas of the U.S., Christophe Cuvillier, chief executive of Unibail-Rodamco, said in a statement. The company also is developing malls in Brussels and in Hamburg, Germany.

Unibail-Rodamco, based in Paris, is the result of a 2007 merger of two French property investment firms.

Westfield owns and operates 35 malls in the U.S. and United Kingdom valued at US$32 billion, according to its Web site.

As sales fall so do retail property prices, to the point where they become attractive as a discount to asset value.

Westfield began in 1959 when billionaire Frank Lowy and his partner John Saunders opened a shopping center in Sydney, Australia.

Unibail-Rodamco SE said Tuesday that its offer values Westfield shares at $7.55 each, a premium of 17.8 percent on Monday's closing price.

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The combined company will control retail properties worth $72.2 billion. Unibail expects the deal to close in the first half of 2018.

Westfield embarked on a restructure in 2014, spinning off its Australia and New Zealand business from its global operations into a separate entity. "Shares of such companies have been hit hard and store closures are accelerating, pressuring landlords to fill empty space and reinvent shopping centers", Pooja Thakur Mahrotri and Matthew Burgess write for Bloomberg.

Westfield Group spun off its Australian and New Zealand operations in 2013 and reorganized its Northern Hemisphere properties as Westfield Corp.in 2014.

"The transaction announced today is the culmination of the strategic journey Westfield has been on since its 2014 restructure", said Sir Frank Lowy AC, chairman of the Westfield board of directors. Steven Lowy serves on Scentre's board. Westfield's portfolio is valued at $32 billion.

Speaking from Milan, Lowy said it was a day of mixed emotion, but was certain it was appropriate to do the deal now.

Oh, and last Friday he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth "for his contribution to the British economy and philanthropic efforts in the country".

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