French group completes Westfield takeover

PARIS • French group Unibail-Rodamco, Europe's biggest commercial property company, said on Thursday that it has completed the acquisition of Australian mall operator Westfield.

The completion of the US$24.7 billion (S$33 billion) takeover creates a new company, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, with businesses around the world.

Originally unveiled last December and approved by Westfield shareholders last month, the deal is the biggest corporate takeover in Australia.

Unibail-Rodamco is Europe's biggest commercial landlord, while Westfield has a large presence in the US, Britain and Italy.

The takeover of Westfield comes as mall operators consolidate their business in the face of increasingly tough competition from online shopping sites.

Unibail has been offloading smaller assets in Europe to focus on bigger shopping centres, which are likely to be better suited to fending off the march of e-commerce giants. The new group has some 3,700 employees and is present in 13 countries, the company said in a statement.

"We look forward to writing together a new chapter in our history," said the merged group's chief executive officer Christophe Cuvillier. "With an unparalleled track record and know-how in retail, offices and convention and exhibition venues, the group is ideally positioned to generate superior value and develop world-class projects," added Mr Cuvillier, the former CEO of Unibail-Rodamco.

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With an unparalleled track record and know-how in retail, offices and convention and exhibition venues, the group is ideally positioned to generate superior value and develop world-class projects.

MR CHRISTOPHE CUVILLIER, CEO of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

"Of course, there is a tinge of sadness," Westfield founder and chairman Frank Lowy said. "But... I am totally at peace with the decision, which is supported by the vast majority of shareholders."

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is listed on Euronext Amsterdam and Paris with a secondary listing in Australia.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2018, with the headline 'French group completes Westfield takeover'. Print Edition | Subscribe