Westfield Group restructure announcement sees shares lift; Services sector improves in November: Midday Roundup

Westfield Group is moving to merge its Australian and New Zealand business with Westfield Retail Trust to form a new entity called Scentre Group.

The international arm of the business will become its own venture known as Westfield Corporation.

In a joint announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange the companies revealed both groups will maintain the Westfield brand on its shopping centres and continue to have separate boards and management teams.

Westfield founder Frank Lowy said in a statement he will be chairman of both new entities.

“Westfield’s international business and its Australian/NZ business have both grown in scale and quality to the stage where they can now stand on their own,” he says.

“They can each operate more efficiently, and generate greater growth and value for investors, by being independent. 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.”

Since the announcement Westfield Group’s shares have jumped 6.08% to $10.99.

Services sector improves in November

The services sector has increased by one point in November, slowly edging closer to growth, according to the latest Australian Industry Group Performance of Services Index.

The sector rose one point to 48.9 points, with readings below 50 indicating contraction in the sector.

The only sub-sectors to grow were health and community services and finance and insurance, with these sectors reaching 56 and 64.6 respectively.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said in a statement there has been a shift in the momentum of the services sector throughout spring.

“The sector now looks to be clawing its way out of a 22-month-long contractionary phase,” he says.

“Confidence appears to be building with the lift in employment in November suggesting more optimistic hiring among services businesses in the lead-up to what is hoped to be a busy Christmas period.”

Shares steady on open

Australian shares have opened flat, as yesterday afternoon the Reserve Bank kept the official cash rate on hold.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 2.6 points to 5253.5 at 11:49am AEDT. The Dow Jones closed 94.15 points lower overnight, down 0.59% to 15,914.62.

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