Westfield Group sold to French property giant Unibail-Rodamco

  • Westfield Group sold to French property giant Unibail-Rodamco

Westfield Group sold to French property giant Unibail-Rodamco

Unibail-Rodamco SE, Europe's largest commercial landlord, has agreed to buy Australia's Westfield Corp for A$20.8 billion (US$15.7 billion) amid a consolidation of mall operators worldwide.

Unibail will acquire Westfield for $7.55 per share, a 18 percent premium over Westfield's closing price on Monday.

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.

"The acquisition of Westfield is a natural extension of Unibail-Rodamco's strategy of concentration, differentiation and innovation", Unibail CEO Christophe Cuvillier said in a news release. Other Southern California locations include the Valencia Town Center mall in Santa Clarita, Westfield Mission Valley, and Horton Plaza and UTC malls in San Diego.

Westfield started out with one shopping centre in Sydney's suburbs and now has interests in dozens of shopping malls and airport retail spaces in the United States, Britain and Europe. Trading in Westfield shares was halted before the market opened on Tuesday, pending news of the deal.

New York-based hedge fund Third Point is pushing for change at Macerich Co, including a possible sale, after building a stake in the real-estate investment trust, people familiar with the matter said last month. It owns 69 shopping centers in 11 European Union countries, with a total property value of $42 billion, as of June 30, 2017.

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.

Westfield has been viewed as a pioneer in US mall redevelopment, focusing on luxury properties rather than lower-end malls located in less affluent locations where hundreds of stores have been shuttered.

"Westfield has got assets in the United Kingdom and in the USA that are all in mature Amazon markets". The company on Tuesday said this had set it up for the Unibail deal.