Westfield Sold For ?19bn
Unibail-Rodamco, owners of Forum des Halles in Paris and one of Europe’s biggest commercial property companies is se to buy Australian giant, Westfield for approximately £19bn. The Lowy family, one of Westfield’s biggest shareholders is selling its 9.5% stake for a mixture of cash and Unibail shares. The forecasted takeover is a result of the rise of Ecommerce sales making the success of store sales very unpredictable. The Unibail-Rodamco’s chief financial officer said however, shopping centres still have a future; “Younger people do their research on their phones and then go to malls to get what they want and to hang out with their friends and have a meal ... You are talking about people wanting an experience,” he told Bloomberg.
Unibail-Rodamco plan to roll out numerous Westfield shopping centres in a number of European cities and states in the US. Westfield currently runs 35 shopping centres across the UK, Europe and the US. Unibail runs 69 shopping centres but lacks a UK and US presence. An analyst at Morgan Stanley said: “The deal would plug the last remaining holes in Unibail-Rodamco’s European dominant positioning – now also UK and Italy – and give the group access to a high-quality portfolio in the US.” The takeover also comes after Hammerson, owners of Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre, agreed to buy Intu (owners of Manchester’s Trafford centre) in a £3.4bn deal. Experts believe the takeover would enable the French property company to grow by 7.2% in the UK super-mall market across the next five years; a seemingly worthy investment. It looks like investment in retail still stands strong.