Shopping giant Westfield to split mall empire

PHOTO: Shopping giant Westfield to split mall empire

SYDNEY - Australian shopping centre giant Westfield Group on Tuesday announced plans to split its international and Australian assets in a reshaping of its global empire which it said would unlock more value for investors.

Under the restructure, its Australian and New Zealand businesses - with interests in 47 malls - will be merged with those of Westfield Retail Trust, which was spun off from the main company in 2010.

The resulting US$26 billion (S$32.6 billion) entity will be named Scentre and listed on the Australian stock market, with a development pipeline for projects worth some US$3 billion.

Westfield Group will be renamed Westfield Corporation with total assets of US$17.6 billion, comprising interests in 44 shopping centres in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.

Westfield Group chairman Frank Lowy said the company's international and local businesses had both grown in scale and quality to the stage where they could now stand on their own.

"They can each operate more efficiently, and generate greater growth and value for investors, by being independent," he said.

"The proposal represents the latest in a series of capital restructures that have maintained the success of Westfield since it was first listed in 1960."

"Our current structure has served us well, but we believe that this new structure will create more value for investors going forward."

Lowy will be chairman of both entities with Scentre expected to list in mid-2014.

Westfield is one of the world's largest shopping centre operators and Lowy said a purely international focus for the new Westfield Corp would allow it to be more easily compared with international peers.