// Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is seeking sell property to fight off long-term debt
// The business will reduce its US presence and complete a remaining €3.2 billion worth of European asset disposals
The new management team of Westfield owner Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is seeking to offload real estate in an effort to alleviate long-term debt problems during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The business will reduce its US presence and complete a remaining €3.2 billion worth of European asset disposals before the end of 2022.
Despite the plans, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) is focusing on its UK estate, with a new-look management board which includes the recent appointment of Scott Parsons as chief operating officer of Westfield UK.
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“At the end of the day, the exposure to the US will be minimal, if not zero,” chief executive, Jean-Marie Tritant said.
Tritant, who previously ran URW’s US business, joined in January after a group of rebel investors won shareholder support in a push for a more European focus.
He said the company was “100 per cent committed” to retaining the two London Westfield malls, considering them its best assets in Europe and among the top globally.
Unibail, which had gross financial debt of €26.4 billion at the end of December, has been selling prime assets and taking out more long-term debt as it seeks to refinance its upcoming maturities.
URW – which also owns Forum des Halles in Paris and Madrid’s La Vaguada – did not give earnings guidance for 2021, due to Covid-19 uncertainties.
The commercial real estate company posted 2020 recurring net profit of €1.06 billion, down 40 per cent, as a year of on-and-off store closures under lockdowns had a knock-on effect for mall owners due rent.