BY Fraser Tennant
In a deal that kicks off a new era for retail, French property group Unibail-Rodamco SE is to acquire Australia’s Westfield Corporation, owner of Westfield Shopping Centres, in a deal valued at $24.7bn.
Under the terms of the agreement, Westfield securityholders will receive a combination of cash and shares in Unibail-Rodamco, valuing each Westfield security at $7.55. The proposed transaction has been unanimously recommended by Westfield’s board of directors and Unibail-Rodamco’s supervisory board.
Westfield group owns and operates 35 shopping centres in the US and UK, encompassing approximately 6400 retail outlets and total assets under management of $32bn.
“The acquisition of Westfield is a natural extension of Unibail-Rodamco’s strategy of concentration, differentiation and innovation,” said Christophe Cuvillier, chairman of the management board and chief executive of Unibail-Rodamco. “It adds a number of new attractive retail markets in London and the wealthiest catchment areas in the US. It provides a unique platform of superior quality shopping destinations supported by experienced professionals of both Unibail-Rodamco and Westfield. 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.”
Following the completion of the transaction, Christophe Cuvillier will be the group chief executive and Colin Dyer will be group chairman of the supervisory board. Furthermore, a newly created advisory board, to be chaired by Sir Frank Lowy, will provide independent advice from outside experts on strategy.
“This transaction is the culmination of the strategic journey Westfield has been on since its 2014 restructure,” said Sir Frank Lowy, chairman of the Westfield board of directors. “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.”
The transaction is conditional upon the satisfaction of customary conditions, including Australian court approval and the approval of Unibail-Rodamco shareholders and Westfield securityholders, and is expected to close in the first half of 2018.
Mr Cuvillier concluded: “We believe that this transaction represents a compelling opportunity for both companies to realise benefits not available to each company on a standalone basis, and creates a strong and attractive platform for future growth.”