Four years after it entered the U.S. market, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield SE plans to close its U.S. business.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield SE, the largest mall owner in Europe, is set to close its U.S. operations four years after entering the market. Several retail real estate market sources have confirmed this, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Jean-Marie Traitant, Unibail's CEO, has predicted that most of the company's U.S. facilities will be sold by 2023. The value of the company's portfolio in the U.S. market is expected to reach $13.2 billion by the end of 2021. The proceeds from the sale of facilities Unibail will not exceed 70% of this amount.
Analysts agree that finding buyers for such a large portfolio in the short term will be extremely difficult. Due to the urgency of closing business in the country, investors will not be ready to offer the outgoing company a market price.
Unibail's exit from the U.S. market four years after it began its expansion could lead to disappointment among mall managers in the United States. As part of its current debt reduction efforts, the company plans to refocus on flagship properties in Europe. During the management change at Unibail in late 2020 or early 2021, plans to sell the U.S. business emerged.
Unibail closed the acquisition of Westfield Corp. in 2018. As a result, the French company obtained control of shopping centers such as Westfield World Trade Center in New York City, Century City in Los Angeles, and Garden State Plaza in northern New Jersey. Once the transaction was closed, the company began selling the properties off. Unibail's portfolio now includes more than ten upscale shopping centers across the country. It is expected that the sale of most of the properties will positively affect future business growth.