Westfield (ASX: WDC) will sell eight shopping centres in the United States for $US1.15 billion ($AU1.11 billion) so it can reduce debt and invest in developments including the new World Trade Centre now under construction.
The shopping centre giant said Starwood Capital Group would own the majority interest in seven of the centres while the eighth, Eastland, is being sold in a separate transaction.
Westfield Group CEO Peter Lowy said the sales represented another step in the company’s strategy to increase return on equity and long-term earnings growth.
“We have previously flagged the potential divestment of non-core assets in the US and this transaction is an important step in the repositioning of our portfolio to major retail assets with strong franchise characteristics,” Lowy said.
The Westfield Group owns 119 shopping centres in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Brazil worth $58 billion.
It was founded by Frank Lowy, who came to Australia in 1952, and fellow Hungarian immigrant John Saunders, who built their first shopping centre in 1953 in the fields of western Sydney at Blacktown – hence the name ‘Westfield’.
Frank Lowy was ranked Australia’s richest man by BRW in 2010.