Selling shopping centres is no easy thing: Westfield’s Frank Lowy

Some people find it hard to part with their cars or houses.

For 82-year-old Frank Lowy, it’s selling multi-million dollar shopping centres.

Speaking at today’s Westfield AGM, a somewhat reflective Frank Lowy spoke of the sales of shopping centres in the group’s global portfolio which did not meet its new returns criteria.

“Sometimes it isn’t an easy decision to sell these centres because typically the sale of an asset results in earnings dilution during the period of time that it takes to redeploy the proceeds of sale,” said Lowy.

Recent shopping centre sales include half shares in Westfield Downtown, Westfield Pakuranga and Westfield Shore City in Auckland.

Addressing shareholders, Lowy highlighted again that retail sales growth remained “subdued” in Australia and that the trend is continuing in 2013 given low levels of consumer confidence “which have existed for some time”.

Despite these conditions, he said the Australian business was performing well with productivity “remaining high”.

Lowy said the group would continue to develop to offer “very different kinds of shopping centres then we have traditionally developed”.

This includes changing the design to reflect a mix of local and international retailers with a focus on luxury brands, fine foods and casual dining.

It will also look to develop its digital business strategy to better connect retailers and consumers.

At the AGM institutional investors voted emphatically in favour of the remuneration report after earlier concerns were expressed by two US proxy investor groups over the combined $18 million pay packages for Westfield co-chief executives Steven and Peter Lowy.

The Australian Shareholders’ Association had also urged shareholders to vote against the total remuneration packages.

This article first appeared on Property Observer.

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