Amid Amazon competition, Westfield malls sold for $15.7B

Westfield shopping centre in White City west London

It owns 69 shopping centers in 11 European Union countries, with a total property value of $42 billion, as of June 30, 2017.

Westfield Corp. operates 16 malls in California, including Westfield Topanga, Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks and Westfield Valencia Town Center in Santa Clarita.

Frank Lowy said the takeover is a culmination of the strategic direction Westfield has taken since a restructure in 2014, when it separated its United Kingdom and U.S. operations from those in Australia and New Zealand, which are now controlled by Scentre Group.

Talks to seal a deal had taken just six weeks, said Lowy whose family will no longer run the company he set up in 1960 but will end up with a 2.8 percent stake in the combined group.

A tough consumer spending environment and intense competition from online rivals has made retailers more selective with their expansion plans, making life tough for shopping center operators and driving consolidation in the sector.

Unibail CEO Christophe Cuvillier said: "It adds new attractive retail markets in London and the wealthiest catchment areas in the United States and represents a compelling opportunity for both companies to realise benefits not available on a standalone basis". Westfield's earning have stayed in line with analyst expectations since the split.

Hammerson's shopping centres include Birmingham's BullRing
Image Hammerson's shopping centres include Birmingham's Bullring

The cash-and-stock deal values shares of Australia-based Westfield at $7.55 a share, an 18% premium over Monday's closing price. The shares were halted earlier on Tuesday pending the announcement, having last traded at A$8.50.

Unibail-Rodamco, based in Paris, is the result of a 2007 merger of two French property investment firms.

Westfield separated its operation in Australia and New Zealand from that in the US and Europe in 2014. "We look forward to seeing Westfield continue to grow as part of the world's premier owner of flagship shopping destinations".

Commenting on the transaction, Cuvillier said, "All of us at Unibail-Rodamco have enormous respect for what the Lowy family and the Westfield team have accomplished with the Westfield brand and the company's iconic collection of world class shopping destinations".

Unibail is the largest commercial real estate company in Europe.

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