Westfield, the big Australian shopping centre-owner, has recommended shareholders accept a takeover offer from a European company for $32.8 billion (US$24.7 billion) – a move that will take one of the country’s most successful business stories out of Australian hands.
Wannabe buyer, Paris-based Unibail-Rodamco, is Europe’s biggest listed property company, and the Australian Financial Review said the potential deal would be Australia’s largest ever takeover.
If Westfield, which Australian-Israeli businessman Sir Frank Lowy founded in 1960, is taken over, the company will give up its main listing on the Australian Securities Exchange, to become part of Unibail-Rodamco, which is listed in Amsterdam and Paris.
The Australian reported that Sir Frank, who’s already Australia’s fourth-richest person, holds a 9.5 per cent stake in Westfield, of which he remains chairman. He has recommended that shareholders accept the offer.
The deal – worth 0.01844 Unibail-Rodamco stapled securities plus US$2.67 in cash for each share – values his stake at almost $1.7 billion at Westfield’s Monday closing price of $8.50 per share.
Ad. Article continues below.
The Australian malls Lowy created aren’t part of the deal, because they were spun off into a separate, listed company called Scentre in 2014.
In a statement released announcing the deal, 87-year-old Sir Frank said Unibail-Rodamco was a “natural home for the legacy of Wstfield’s brand and business”. Lowy’s sons Steven and Peter are the co-CEOs of Westfield.
Christophe Cuvillier, Unibail-Rodamco’s CEO, said he had immense respect for the Lowy family and the Westfield team and would use the combined strength of the two companies to create more “superior quality shopping destinations”.
Do you shop at a local Westfield? How do you feel about a successful Australian company being taken over by a foreign business – happy that we create world-class companies or sad that it’s no longer in Aussie hands?