Westfield owner details new fundraising plans

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has revealed new plans for fundraising and cost saving.

The shopping centre owner, which owns London’s two Westfield malls, announced Reset, a new strategy aimed at strengthening its balance sheet and increasing financial flexibility.

It comprises more than €9 billion worth of investment, with an underwritten €3.5 billion capital raise to immediately reduce leverage, nearly €2 billion in cash savings and a target €4 billion of disposals, which are expected to be completed by year-end 2021.

At least half of these disposals are expected to be European retail assets. Even before the pandemic hit, the company was scaling its new developments pipeline and increasing disposals, as net retail income fell.

Across its continental European shopping centres, the company said footfall was now around 80 per cent to 90 per cent of last year’s figures, while for Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City on their own, footfall is in the 60 per cent and 70 per cent range compared to 2019.

In terms of tenant sales, Unibail-Radamco-Westfield said they were gradually improving across Europe, with a 26 per cent decline in June improving to a 16 per cent decline in July and a 12 per cent decline in August.

While there were signs of improvement in the UK as well, tenant sales were down 70 per cent in June, followed by a 47 per cent decline in July, and then a 34 decrease in August.

Unibail-Radmaco-Westfield said it was “making solid progress” on payment or rent and lease deals with its retail tenants, which are being negotiated on a case-by-case basis – although it is not interested in “permanently changing lease structures or changing the basis for rent calculations”.

In July, the company collected 72 per cent of rent, while in August it collected 70 per cent of rent.

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