Westfield Sold to European Company

Westfield

Westfield

Westfield Corp., the Australia-based company that operates USA shopping malls including at the World Trade Center in NY, said Tuesday it has agreed to a takeover by European property company Unibail-Rodamco valuing it at 20.8 billion Australian dollars (US$15.7 billion).

Shareholders will receive $10.01 in cash and shares, per share.

The deal combines two of the biggest mall operators in the world at a time when malls are going through many well-publicized struggles, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Lowy family saw the move as a chance to recover value for their shareholders, the Wall Street Journal reported, while Unibail executives saw a chance to increase their company's portfolio of centers in more affluent areas of the USA and United Kingdom with a wide range of amenities, such as movie theaters. "If you are a retailer, and you still want to have some physical stores, you want them in the best malls you can get-the malls with entertainment, food and beverage", Andrea Felsted, a retail columnist, told Bloomberg.

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.

"This is really the polarization of shopping mall markets". Frank Lowy, chairman and cofounder of Westfield, will step down but keep a 2.8 percent stake of the combined business, Reuters reported.

Westfield
NCChristophe Cuvillier lauded the benefits of the Westfield acquisition

Westfield separated its operation in Australia and New Zealand from that in the US and Europe in 2014.

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

Chairman Sir Frank Lowy, who was knighted just this week by Queen Elizabeth II says the move was part of its journey, and had been on the cards since its 2014 restructure.

Unibail is focused on large sites with heavy pedestrian traffic and high-profile tenants such as Apple, Zara and Primark and analysts said it would gain from importing the Westfield model.

The deal is subject to approval by both companies' shareholders and is expected to close in the first half of next year.

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