13 things you need to know about the Unibail-Rodamco and Westfield mega merger
Iconic Australian shopping centre operator Westfield has agreed to sell its portfolio to European retail giant Unibail-Rodamco for a fee of AU$32.7bn.
Longstanding owner Sir Frank Lowy started the business with a single shop in Sydney in 1950, and after almost seven decades has decided to pass on ownership.
On announcing the news, Lowy said: ““The transaction announced today is the culmination of the strategic journey Westfield has been on since its 2014 restructure. We see this transaction as highly compelling for Westfield’s securityholders and Unibail-Rodamco’s shareholders alike.
“Unibail-Rodamco’s track record makes it the natural home for the legacy of Westfield’s brand and business. We look forward to seeing Westfield continue to grow as part of the world’s premier owner of flagship shopping destinations.”
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But what are the main features of the deal, and what kind of retail superstructure will this move create? Here are X facts you need to know:
- The agreed fee of AU$32.7bn represents a 17.8% share price premium (around AU$10 a share).
- The deal includes 35 Westfield shopping centres located in the US and the UK, which contain 6,400 retail outlets and is worth AU$42.31bn.
- Unibail-Rodamco is an even bigger operator of retail centres, managing 69 shopping centres in 11 European countries with assets worth AU$56.26bn.
- Combined, the new company will own 104 assets worth around AU$100bn.
- It will be present in 27 of the world’s most prolific retail cities and destinations, with a total visitation of 1.2bn people a year.
- Such destinations include: London, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, Paris, San Francisco, San Jose, Stockholm, Vienna, Madrid and Warsaw.
- Among the flagship shopping centres to be under one umbrella company include: Westfield London, Westfield Stratford City, Les Quatre Temps, Westfield Century City, Le Forum des Halles, Westfield World Trade Center, La Maquinista, Shopping City Süd, Mall of Scandinavia, Centrum Chodov and Arkadia.
- The deal will see a combination of two development pipelines worth around €AU$19.15bn, including investments in London, Milan, Hamburg, Brussels, Paris, San Jose, Lyon and other major cities.
- Following the transaction, Unibail-Rodamco will maintain its two-tier board structure which consists of a supervisory board and a management board.
- Christophe Cuvillier will be the Group Chief Executive Officer and Colin Dyer will be the Group Chairman of the Supervisory Board.
- Upon the closing of the transaction, Unibail-Rodamco shareholders and Westfield securityholders will hold Unibail-Rodamco stapled securities, each comprising one Unibail-Rodamco share and one share in a newly formed Dutch company, Newco, which will hold Westfield’s US operations.
- The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals, which include passing though the Australian courts.
- Unibail-Rodamco hopes to close the deal in Q2 of 2018.
Current Unibail-Rodamco CEO Cuvillier said: “All of us at Unibail-Rodamco have immense respect for what the Lowy family and the Westfield team have accomplished with the Westfield brand and the company’s iconic collection of world class shopping destinations.
“The acquisition of Westfield is a natural extension of Unibail-Rodamco’s strategy of concentration, differentiation and innovation. It adds a number of new attractive retail markets in London and the wealthiest catchment areas in the United States.”
Bytedance CFO to TikTok CEO in 5 weeks: who is Shou Zi Chew?
When the world’s most valuable startup ByteDance, owner of TikTok, snatched 39-year-old finance exec Shou Zi Chew from the clutches of Xiaomi back in March, and gave the 39-year-old the financial reins of the US$400bn valued company, it was pretty big news.
Not just because it was the first time Bytedance had employed a CFO or that he had landed the only other C-suite position besides CEO Zhang Yiming, but because rumours were swirling that Beijing-based Bytedance was about to float and Chew, who had previously taken Xiaomi through a successful IPO, was being brought on board to do the same.
However, just five weeks into his role as CFO of Bytedance, with speculation growing as to the when and where of an IPO, Chew, who is a Singapore national, landed the top job (CEO) at TikTok too – a role currently considered to be the biggest job in tech – in addition to retaining his CFO position at parent company Bytedance.
The world's most challenging roles?
That's quite a responsibility. Not just because of the popularity of TikTok (think 689 million users worldwide and the world's most downloaded non-gaming app in the first quarter of 2021) and the revenue of Bytedance (US$37bn in 2020), but because the data privacy complications that TikTok and Bytedance have been enduring for a while now, with Chinese and US governments, are not going away.
Complications that led to the departure of TikTok’s previous CEO, former Disney exec Kevin Mayer after just three months in the job, when during his tenure the US government issued two executive orders within eight days aimed at forcing ByteDance to divest TikTok's operations in the US. This is far from TikTok's, or rather, Chew's only challenge. With India, once TikTok's fastest-growing market, now having banned the platform for political reasons, the challenge for Chew will be, where to grow TikTok?
This will no doubt be a business imperative for Chew, in finding a way to both grow the platform and to restructure the business to meet regulatory requirements both demanded by the US and Beijing. As will taking Bytedance through its initial public offering, something that has been rumoured about. According to Reuters, ByteDance has been considering whether to go for a standalone public listing for Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, or list some of its Chinese operations, including Douyin and news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, as a package in Hong Kong or Shanghai.
Why is Chew the man for the biggest job in tech?
So, who is this man with so much responsibility on his Singaporean shoulders? And more importantly, is he up to the job(s)? Well, he's used to working with billionaires, having worked for Russian billionaire Yuri Milner‘s internet investment firm DST for five years. In fact, it was here, at DST, in 2013 that Chew first came across Bytedance and where he led a team as early investors in ByteDance – what was then just a small startup housed in a Beijing residential flat.
Chew's credentials are pretty impressive too. Not only does he have an economics degree from University College London and an MBA from the Harvard Business School, where he spent a summer working for a then startup (Facebook), but his experience in some of the world's top companies straddles both tech and finance.
Chew began his working life in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, where he focused on technology, media and telecoms’ investments, before joining private equity firm DST Investment Management as a partner for five years.
He then joined Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi as Chief Financial Officer, where he was the youngest of the C-suite and where he was not only instrumental in securing much-needed financing from investors, but oversaw the company’s Hong Kong IPO in 2018, one of the largest-ever Chinese tech listings and the first-ever IPO in Hong Kiong Stock Exchange to realise dual-class shares.
He spent six years at Xiaomi before being snapped up by Bytedance. And according to the man who hired him, billionaire founder and CEO of Bytedance, Zhang Yiming, Chew's "deep knowledge of the company and industry” will add "depth to the team, focusing on areas including corporate governance and long-term business initiatives. I believe Chew's accession can help us further expand our global business."
Watch this space.