The brand has developed shopping venues in prime locations such as London’s Shepherd Bush and New York’s World Trade Center.
Not all shopping malls are alike. While online shopping has put a dent in the mall culture, high-end megamalls with dining and entertainment options are still faring well in most major cities. Last month, French commercial-property company Unibail-Rodamco paid nearly $25 billion, including debt, to acquire rival mall operator Westfield, a Sydney-based global leader in upscale shopping.
Following the merger, Unibail-Rodamco will become the world’s second-biggest mall owner (after Simon Property Group) by market value, with 104 shopping centers in 27 major cities. Assuming the deal wins the approval of shareholders, who will receive a combination of cash and shares at an 18% premium to the market, it will be the biggest takeover on record of an Australian company.
“Unibail-Rodamco’s track record makes it the natural home for the legacy of Westfield’s brand and business,” says Frank Lowy, chairman and co-founder of Westfield. Unibail, Europe’s biggest property company, will rebrand its bigger malls under the Westfield name. Three days before the deal was announced, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Sir Frank at Windsor Castle.
Westfield has developed shopping venues in such prime locations as London’s Shepherd Bush, New York’s World Trade Center and Los Angeles’ Century City. It is currently developing a mall in Milan, Italy. Unibail’s flagship centers include the Forum des Halles and Les 4 TPasteemps malls in Paris, Groupius in Berlin and the Mall of Scandinavia in Stockholm. The latter has 224 stores, restaurants and a cinema.
In early December, UK shopping-mall owner Hammerson paid $4.5 billion to acquire rival Intu Properties. Hammerson’s vision is to become the best owner-manager of retail property in Europe by concentrating on prime locations, the shopping experience, convenience and luxury. The merged group plans to sell at least $2.5 billion of assets to focus on supermalls with the most profitable opportunities.
Meanwhile, GGP, one of the largest owners of US shopping centers, rejected a $14.8 billion takeover from Brookfield Property Partners, its largest shareholder. Talks are ongoing.