European shopping center landlord Unibail-Rodamco has entered into an agreement to acquire Westfield Corp., in a $15.7 billion deal that will create a $72.2 billion firm with 104 assets attracting 1.2 billion visits annually.
The deal will give Unibail-Rodamco, which has over 70 shopping centers across Europe, access to the British and U.S. markets, where Westfield owns 35 malls. The new company will be led by Unibail Chief Executive Christophe Cuvillier and Unibail centers will be rebranded under the Westfield name. It will be headquartered in Paris and Schiphol, Netherlands, with regional headquarters in Los Angeles and London.
It will be a company with some high-profile malls in its portfolio, including Westfield’s 17 flagship properties such as Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City, both in London, plus Westfield Century City, Los Angeles; Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus, N.J.; and Westfield World Trade Center, in New York City. Unibail brings to the combined company some flagship properties of its own, including Forum des Halles and Les 4 Temps, in Paris, and Mall of Scandinavia, in Stockholm, Sweden.
This marks further consolidation in the retail real estate industry, coming on the heels of the agreement by U.K. mall owner Hammerson PLC to acquire Intu Properties PLC for $4.53 billion. In the U.S., Brookfield Property Partners LP has bid $14.8 billion for the two-thirds of GGP that it does not already own.
Westfield Century City, Los Angeles
"The acquisition of Westfield is a natural extension of Unibail-Rodamco’s strategy of concentration, differentiation and innovation," said Cuvillier, in a prepared statement. "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. We believe that this transaction represents a compelling opportunity for both companies to realize benefits not available to each company on a standalone basis, and creates a strong and attractive platform for future growth. 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.”
Frank Lowy AC, chairman of the Westfield board of directors, said: “The transaction announced today is the culmination of the strategic journey Westfield has been on since its 2014 restructure. We see this transaction as highly compelling for Westfield’s securityholders and Unibail-Rodamco’s shareholders alike. Unibail-Rodamco’s track record makes it the natural home for the legacy of Westfield’s brand and business. We look forward to seeing Westfield continue to grow as part of the world’s premier owner of flagship shopping destinations.”
By Brannon Boswell