Westfield looks towards reducing US presence to focus on UK estate
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the owner of Westfield London and Westfield Stratford shopping centres, has announced it will immediately look at reducing its presence in the US and complete a remaining €3.2 billion European asset disposals before December 2022.
The real estate company reported a recurring net profit of €1.06 billion for FY2020, down 40% compared to 2019, as the full impact of global store closures was revealed.
Throughout 2021 and 2022 Westfield will implement a programme to significantly reduce its financial exposure to the US when the investment market reopens which should happen with the expected US economy rebound in 2022.
As a key part of deleveraging plans, Westfield has reduced financial developments in the pipeline to €4.4 billion, down from €8.3 billion. Committed projects amount to €2.9 billion, of which €1.7 billion are already invested.
The Group will also limit overall capital expenditure for the next two years to €2 billion in total.
Despite the aforementioned plans, Westfield is focused on its UK estate, with a newly extended management board and the recent appointments of Scott Parsons as Chief Operating Officer and Kate Orwin as Leasing Director.
Westfield reported in December that it had gross financial debts of €26.4 billion, and has been selling prime assets and taking out more long-term debt as it seeks to refinance upcoming maturities.
Jean-Marie Tritant, Chief Executive Officer confirmed it is "100% committed" to both Westfield locations in the UK, considering them both its best assets in Europe.
Tritant continued, adding: “2020 has been a year like no other in URW’s history and I want to thank our outstanding teams for showing true resilience.
"With restrictions in place across almost all of our markets we have realistic expectations for 2021 but are encouraged by the way footfall and sales bounced back strongly whenever restrictions were eased or lifted last year.
"There is clear pent-up consumer demand for high quality shopping destinations, and leading and emerging brands are choosing URW locations ahead of a market rebound. The retail landscape is changing and our centres are proving to be attractive for high potential sectors such as innovative automotive, digitally native vertical brands and entertainment."