Finance

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

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

He added the company's acquisition of Westfield is a natural extension of its strategy of concentration, innovation and differentiation. The company also is developing malls in Brussels and Hamburg, Germany, according to The Times. Unibail, based in Paris, operates malls in Western and Central Europe.

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 US and United Kingdom with a wide range of amenities, such as movie theaters.

The sale of Westfield follows 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.

Westfield started in 1959 with one shopping center in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, and was first listed on the Australian Stock Exchange the following year, according to its website.

Shares in Unibail-Rodamco, which was formed in 2007 by the merger of France's Unibail and Dutch-based Rodamco, were down 4.0 percent at 1500 GMT, with analysts at Kepler Cheuvreux saying that the deal looked expensive. The mall, anchored by Macy's, Sears, and JC Penney, has more than 200 stores. And "if you invested in Westfield 18 months ago, you would have lost money even if you accepted the [Australian] $10-a-share offer now on the table", observes Elizabeth Knight for the Sydney Morning Herald.




Unibail is the largest commercial real estate company in Europe.

Sir Lowy says he and his sons, joint chief executives Steven and Peter Lowy, will step down as executives and become investors.

Lowy said: "The transaction announced today is the culmination of the strategic journey Westfield has been on since its 2014 restructure".

Lowy, a Holocaust survivor from Czechoslovakia, served as Westfield's chief executive for more than 50 years before becoming non-executive chairman of the board in 2011.

Westfield's portfolio includes shopping areas at U.S. airports such as Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International, Los Angeles International and Orlando International.


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