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13 December 2017, 06:05 | Melanie Burgess
ALAMYWestfield snapped up by French giant for £18.5bn
Westfield chairman Sir Frank Lowy has announced that after 57 years the shopping centre giant will be sold to French commercial property company Unibail-Rodamco for $32.7 billion.
Shareholders will receive $10.01 in cash and shares, per share. It owns 69 shopping centers in 11 European Union countries, with a total property value of $42 billion, as of June 30, 2017.
Unibail will acquire Westfield for $7.55 per share, a 18 percent premium over Westfield's closing price on Monday.
Westfield has been viewed as a pioneer in USA mall redevelopment, focusing on luxury properties rather than lower-end malls located in less affluent locations where hundreds of stores have been shuttered.
"The acquisition of Westfield is a natural extension of Unibail-Rodamco's strategy of concentration, differentiation and innovation", Unibail chief executive Christophe Cuvillier said.
"I'm also proud that Unibail will extend the famous red Westfield brand across all their flagship assets", he added. "It adds a number of new attractive retail markets in London and the wealthiest catchment areas in the United States".
NCChristophe Cuvillier lauded the benefits of the Westfield acquisition
"Westfield was built by Frank Lowy, the billionaire shopping center tycoon who started with one shopping center outside of Sydney in 1959".
Westfield's portfolio includes shopping areas at USA airports such as Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International, Los Angeles International and Orlando International.
Talks to seal a deal had taken just six weeks, said Lowy whose family will no longer run the company he set up in 1960 but will end up with a 2.8 percent stake in the combined group.
The deal was recommended by the boards of both companies but is subject to approval by shareholders and regulators. It expanded to New Zealand and the United Kingdom and entered the US market in 1977.
"The transaction announced today is the culmination of the strategic journey Westfield has been on since its 2014 restructure", Lowy said in a statement.
Westfield Group spun off its Australian and New Zealand operations in 2013 and reorganized its Northern Hemisphere properties as Westfield Corp.in 2014. Unibail expects the deal to close in the first half of 2018.
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