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Westfield sale looks like a kneejerk reaction to the Amazon age


The crisis of confidence among owners of large shopping centres is contagious. Last week it was Hammerson, the Birmingham Bullring folk, bidding for Intu, owner of Gateshead’s Metrocentre.
Now, on grander scale, French giant Unibail-Rodamco is paying $25bn to own Westfield, the Australian outfit that has erected its multistorey car parks, with malls attached, in east and west London.
The new duo claimed “compelling” rationale for the deal but never quite got round to saying what it’s supposed to be. It can’t be the cost savings since they are tiny in the context of a company that will own €61bn worth of assets.
The savings are worth just €100m, of which only €60m is attributed to eliminating “corporate overheads”, which presumably means closing Westfield’s Australian office.
Instead, the impetus for this deal seems to be the idea that greater size offers better protection from the rise of online shopping. The new firm will certainly be big.



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