Valencia Town Center owner Westfield bought for $15.8B

Shoppers congregate at the Westfield Valencia Town Center. Photo Tom Cruze/For the Signal

A French real estate firm is buying Westfield Corp., the Australian-based owner of Valencia Town Center and 34 other malls, including 15 in California.

Unibail-Rodamco, owner of 71 retail centers across Europe, will pay $7.55 in cash and stock for each Westfield share, making the deal worth about $15.8 billion.

Both companies’ boards of directors have approved the transaction, which must also be approved by shareholders.

The combined company, which will use the Westfield name, will own 104 assets attracting 1.2 billion visits annually, “creating a must-have partner for all global retailers and brands across Europe and select markets in the United States,” the companies said in a joint statement.

Slightly more than half of those centers are characterized as “flagship shopping destinations.”

Valencia Town Center was developed by JSB Realty and opened in 1992. Westfield Group bought a 25 percent interest in 2002 and added its name to the center after it assumed majority control in 2005. The mall, anchored by Macy’s, Sears, and JC Penney, has more than 200 stores.

Westfield started in 1959 with one shopping center in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, and was first listed on the Australian Stock Exchange the following year, according to its website. It expanded to New Zealand and the United Kingdom and entered the U.S. market in 1977.

Westfield Group spun off its Australian and New Zealand operations in 2013 and reorganized its Northern Hemisphere properties as Westfield Corp. in 2014. The company has been managed by members of the Lowy family since its start, and Peter Lowy will be one of two Westfield representatives to join Unibail-Rodamco’s supervisory board.

“The transaction announced today is the culmination of the strategic journey Westfield has been on since its 2014 restructure,” said Sir Frank Lowy AC, chairman of the Westfield board of directors. “We see this transaction as highly compelling for Westfield’s securityholders and Unibail-Rodamco’s shareholders alike.”

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

“All of us at Unibail-Rodamco have immense 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,” said Christophe Cuvillier, Unibail-Rodamco’s CEO. “The acquisition of Westfield is a natural extension of Unibail-Rodamco’s strategy of concentration, differentiation and innovation.”

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