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Mall Giant Looks To Sell $13.2B Portfolio In Exit From U.S. Retail

Mall giant Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield SE has decided to sell its U.S. retail assets, which might fetch considerably less than the company paid for them, especially the $14B Unibail-Rodamco paid for Westfield and its American mall portfolio four years ago. 

Westfield Horton Plaza in San Diego

URW CEO Jean-Marie Tritant told investors that the company wants to divest most of its U.S. properties by the end of next year, The Wall Street Journal reports. The company has been planning the exit for more than a year.

Paris-based URW values its U.S. mall holdings at about $13.2B, but it isn't clear whether the properties will be able to command that sum in the current investment environment.

"Unibail likely will have a hard time finding buyers by next year and almost certainly won’t get what it paid for its U.S. portfolio," Green Street Advisors Senior Analyst Rob Virdee told the WSJ.

In the Americas, the retail sector accounted for only 11% of total investment volume in Q4 2021, though that was its highest share since Q2 2020, CBRE reports. Investors were far more interested in apartments, which captured 45% of investment dollars for the quarter, and industrial, which accounted for 22% of investment volume.

URW has 34 properties in the United States, including 24 standalone malls and 10 retail assets in U.S. airports. All of its nonairport malls are branded Westfield.

Going forward, the company's focus will be on its European assets. Its heaviest concentration of properties is in France, where it has 39 properties, including 21 malls, plus a number of office buildings and convention centers.

“By 2024, we will have successfully reshaped the business to capture future growth, centered on our portfolio of flagship destinations in the wealthiest cities and catchment areas in Europe," Tritant said in a statement.