Published: Tue, December 12, 2017
Culture&Arts | By Darrell Mcdonald

Garden State Plaza to get new European owner under Westfield sale deal

Garden State Plaza to get new European owner under Westfield sale deal

Sir Frank Lowy AC, chairman of the Westfield board of directors, said the deal with Unibail-Rodamco is the culmination of the strategic journey Westfield has been on since its 2014 restructuring.

Holocaust survivor Frank Lowy started Westfield in 1959 with a single shopping center in Sydney, Australia. A spokeswoman for Unibail-Rodamco declined to comment.

Westfield's share price is down about 10 percent in 2017.

"We look forward to welcoming Westfield's securityholders as shareholders in the new Group, and continuing to create significant value for our existing and new shareholders".

The deal - worth 0.01844 Unibail-Rodamco stapled securities plus US$2.67 in cash for each share - values his stake at nearly $1.7 billion at Westfield's Monday closing price of $8.50 per share.

Westfield owns and operates 35 malls in the USA and United Kingdom valued at US$32 billion, according to its Web site. The deal should be accretive to earnings from the first full year, he said.

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

Unibail's move dwarfs British shopping center owner Hammerson's (HMSO.L) purchase of smaller rival Intu Properties (INTUP.L) for some 3.4 billion pounds, creating a global leader with $72 billion of gross market value in 27 retail markets under the distinctive red Westfield logo.

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Australia's iconic Westfield shopping malls are set to be taken over by a European shopping centre giant.

Given the large premium offered by Unibail, Peter Lowy said this deal allowed Westfield investors to make up that shortfall. The shares were halted earlier on Tuesday pending the announcement, having last traded at A$8.50.

As mall owners around the world seek a defense against Inc, Europe's largest commercial landlord is betting the solution lies across the Atlantic.

The mall, now owned by Australian developer Westfield Corp., is being acquired as part of a $15.7 offer by Unibail-Rodamco, headquartered in Paris.

"Westfield has got assets in the United Kingdom and in the USA that are all in mature Amazon markets".

But beyond that, the family signalled its intention to "maintain a substantial investment in the group" after the sale.

Sir Frank said the deal was the culmination of a strategic journey Westfield has been on since a major restructure in 2014, when it split its domestic and worldwide assets.

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