Westfield founder urges shareholders to vote for deal

frank-lowy2Westfield Corporation founder and chairman Frank Lowy is urging shareholders to vote in favour of a $33 billion takeover by Paris property giant Unibail-Rodamco, in a deal that will end an era for his family.

Mr Lowy told Westfield’s annual general meeting the takeover is “highly compelling” for Westfield security holders, who would receive $US2.67 ($A3.53) in cash and 0.01844 securities in Unibail for each Westfield share.

The takeover, which was announced in December and marks the retirement of Mr Lowy as Westfield chairman, was overwhelmingly supported by Unibail shareholders at a meeting last week and has been backed by the Lowy family and Westfield directors.

“All shareholders in the new group will benefit from economic exposure to a much larger and geographically diverse portfolio than they have today,” Mr Lowy said at the meeting.

“I believe that the strategic positioning of the new group is unique and that it will play a major role in the ongoing evolution of the retail industry.”

Westfield was established in Sydney’s west and listed in 1960, before growing rapidly under the control of Frank Lowy, who was chief executive for 50 years before handing over to his sons Steven and Peter in 2011.

Unibail-Rodamco, which is the largest commercial landlord in Europe with interests in shopping centres, offices and exhibition centres, will pay a combination of cash and shares for control of Westfield, at a value representing a premium of 17.8 per cent on the most recent trading value of Westfield securities.

The Lowy family’s stake in Westfield is valued at just over $3 billion.

The deal, which was struck after six weeks of negotiations, will create a company with assets worth 61 billion euros ($A95 billion), with 104 shopping centres in 13 countries, all of which will carry the Westfield branding.

Mr Lowy will chair a newly created advisory board for Unibail, which will provide the group with strategic advice.

Peter Lowy will be one of two Westfield board members appointed to the supervisory board of Unibail, while Steven Lowy will be chairman of a retail technology company that is being spun out of Westfield.

Westfield will be delisted from the Australian share market, and Unibail will have a secondary listing in Australia, alongside its stapled securities listed in Amsterdam and Paris.

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