Westfield shopping centres owner to be taken over by French property giant Unibail-Rodamco

The tie-up will create a global property leader with £53.9bn of market value, operating in 27 of the world’s top retail markets and cities

Josie Cox
Business Editor
Tuesday 12 December 2017 08:56 GMT
Comments
Owners of shopping centres around the world have been struggling to keep up with growing demand for online shopping, championed by behemoths like Amazon
Owners of shopping centres around the world have been struggling to keep up with growing demand for online shopping, championed by behemoths like Amazon (Getty)

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

The owner of Westfield shopping centres is being taken over by French property investment giant Unibail-Rodamco, in a deal valuing the former at $24.7bn (£18.5bn), making it the largest acquisition of an Australian company in history.

In a joint press release on Tuesday, the two companies said that the transaction had already been unanimously recommended by Westfield’s board of directors as well as by Unibail-Rodamco’s supervisory board.

They said that the tie-up would create a global property leader with €61.1bn (£53.9bn) of market value, operating in 27 of the world’s top retail markets and cities.

“The acquisition of Westfield is a natural extension of Unibail-Rodamco’s strategy of concentration, differentiation and innovation,” said Christophe Cuvillier, chairman of the management board and chief executive of Unibail-Rodamco.

“It adds a number of new attractive retail markets in London and the wealthiest catchment areas in the United States. It provides a unique platform of superior quality shopping destinations supported by experienced professionals of both Unibail-Rodamco and Westfield,” he said.

Sir Frank Lowy, chairman of Westfield’s board of directors, said that Unibail-Rodamco’s track record “makes it the natural home for the legacy of Westfield’s brand and business”.

Under the terms of the deal, Unibail-Rodamco said shareholders in Westfield will receive a combination of cash and shares, valuing Westfield at $7.55 a share, which represents an 18 per cent premium to the company’s closing share price before the deal was announced.

Owners of shopping centres around the world have been struggling to keep up with growing demand for online shopping, championed by behemoths like Amazon.

In the US, department store operators have already been forced to aggressively restructure amid a slump in demand for physical shopping, a trend that is starting to materialise in the UK too.

“Predominately bricks and mortar global retailers are facing huge challenges,” said Jonathan Buxton, partner and head of consumer and retail at Cavendish Corporate Finance.

He said that consumers’ switch to e-commerce will only intensify meaning that “we will likely see more mega-deals of this nature”.

He said that the sector will be re-shaped and that it will eventually be dominated by “a handful of consolidated global retail property players”.

Earlier this month, shopping centre owner Hammerson announced that it had struck a deal to take over rival Intu in an acquisition worth £3.4bn.

"The industry is under severe pressure from internet selling and particularly Amazon,” said John Colley, of Warwick Business School. “As sales fall so do retail property prices to the point where they become attractive as a discount to asset value.”

Westfield currently owns and operates 35 shopping centres across the UK and the US, valued at around $32bn. It’s working on a massive expansion at its flagship mall in London.

Additional reporting by agencies

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in