Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Unibail-Rodamco agrees to buy mall operator Westfield for US$15.7 billion

The Westfield Group is being taken over The Westfield Group is being taken over
Kelvin Reese | 13 December, 2017, 06:05

After the takeover of the Australian company, Westfi eld's 35 shopping centres in the United Kingdom and America, including London's White City and Stratford malls, will combine with Unibail's 69 sites to form a £54billion retail giant attracting 1.2 billion visits annually.

The Westfield brand will be maintained and the Lowy family will still be committed to the Group's success.

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

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

The deal, which would offer Westfield shareholders a combination of cash and shares in Unibail-Rodamco, values Westfield shares at US$7.55 each, or A$10.01, representing a almost 18% premium to Westfield's most recent share price of A$8.50. He was also sure he and his sons Peter and Steven had taken the right course. He added their family has worked at Westfield for a combined 145 years.

John Colley, of Warwick Business School, said: "The industry is under pressure from internet selling and particularly Amazon".

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"The deal accelerates consolidation of the global retail property sector", Kaye and Paul point out, and "comes on the heels of world No. 2 retail real estate investment trust GGP Inc's rejection of a $14.8 billion offer from Brookfield Property for the two-thirds it did not already own". In the Los Angeles area, it has the newly renovated Century City mall, as well as its Culver City, Topanga & the Village, Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks, and Santa Anita malls.

The deal will allow Unibail-Rodamco to expand into, "new attractive real estate markets", Christophe Cuvillier, chief executive of Unibail-Rodamco, said in a statement.

The Lowy family, which owns 9.0 percent of Westfield, said they would rather be investors than executives after putting in a combined 145 years at the company, which has stakes in 18 suburban US shopping centers, three of which it wholly owns.

Westfield went into a trading halt today because the shopping centre group said it was in discussions about a "potentially significant corporate transaction".

"The indoor mall is dying", he said. Such move resulted to losses in jobs, with the retail industry losing an average of 9,000 jobs a month this year, according to latest data from Bureau of Labour Statistics.

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