Westfield owner to cut US presence, focus on UK estate

The owner of London’s Westfield shopping centre has said it is cutting down on its presence in the US and focusing on its UK estate as it navigates its way through the pandemic.

Property giant Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), which has been heavily impacted throughout the year by global store closures, revealed Wednesday it made a recurring net profit of 1.06 billion euros in 2020, down 40 percent compared to 2019.

It said it is now looking to slash its presence in the US and complete a remaining 3.2 billion euro European asset disposal by the end of 2022.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, the property owner 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 the deleveraging plans, the company has reduced its development pipeline to 4.4 billion euros, down from 8.3 billion euros as of December 2019. Committed projects amount to 2.9 billion euros, of which 1.7 billion euros are already invested, leaving only 1.2 billion euros left to be spent.

URW committed to UK centres

The company, which revealed it had gross financial debt of 26.4 billion euros at the end of December, said it was “100 percent committed” to its two Westfield locations in the UK.

Jean-Marie Tritant, who was appointed as URW’s group CEO in November 2020, described last year as “like no other in URW’s history” and thanked its teams for showing “true resilience” during the pandemic.

“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,” he said.

Photo credit: URW

 

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