Shopping-Mall Operator Westfield Valued at $15.7 Billion in Takeover Offer

By Mike CherneyFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Westfield Corp., the Australia-based company that operates U.S. shopping malls including at the World Trade Center in New York, said Tuesday it has agreed to a takeover by European property company Unibail-Rodamco valuing it at 20.8 billion Australian dollars (US$15.7 billion).

The deal, which would offer Westfield shareholders a combination of cash and shares in Unibail-Rodamco, values Westfield shares at US$7.55 each, or A$10.01, representing a nearly 18% premium to Westfield's most recent share price of A$8.50. Trading in Westfield shares was halted before the market opened on Tuesday, pending news of the deal.

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The transaction would create a global operator and developer of flagship shopping centers spanning the U.S. and Europe, with a gross market value of US$72.2 billion. Unibail-Rodamco Chief Executive Christophe Cuvillier will run the merged group.

For Westfield Chairman Frank Lowy, the deal represents the culmination of a decadeslong career in shopping malls that began when he opened a deli in a western Sydney suburb. Mr. Lowy, born in 1930 in Czechoslovakia, survived the Holocaust and fought in the Israeli war of independence before moving to Australia.

His sons, Peter Lowy and Steven Lowy, are co-chief executives of Westfield, which spun off its Australian and New Zealand assets in 2014 into Scentre Group. Steven Lowy serves on Scentre's board.

Westfield in recent years has focused on flagship shopping centers, and sold some smaller regional centers, as an increase in online shopping challenged mall operators.

Write to Mike Cherney at mike.cherney@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 12, 2017 02:01 ET (07:01 GMT)