Chill for REITs as Lowy family sell $815 million Scentre Group stake

Chill for REITs as Lowy family sell $815 million Scentre Group stake
Staff reporterDecember 7, 2020

The Lowy family has sold its $815 million stake in Australian shopping centre owner Scentre Group ending its association with the Australian retail sector that began in 1959.

The move cuts the family’s ties with the 60 year old shopping centre company that grew from a single centre that opened in Blacktown in western Sydney.

Sir Frank Lowy has been in Sydney overseeing the sell down through investment bank UBS.

The Australian newspaper reported its sent a chill through the listed real estate investment trust sector.

The stake comprised 3.9 per cent of the company’s stock, with 206.1 million shares divested to institutions in what marked the largest ever REIT block trade in Australian history.

The sale at $3.956 was at a small discount to the closing price of $4.01.

Sir Frank, who was born in 1930, was knighted in 2017 and ranked as Australia’s 6th richest person on this year’s The List with a fortune of $8.92bn.

He co-founded the Westfield empire with John Saunders.

The offshore component sold to French group Unibail-Rodamco in a $32bn deal finalised last year.

Scentre was created in June 2014 when the Westfield Group separated its American and European businesses.

The sale also positions the Lowy Family Group for the next phase of investing and it is already backing a new property fund in Australia looking for opportunistic plays, with the aid of former Westfield executive Michael Gutman and the Alceon operation.

The group has launched a series of ventures in fields ranging from health, cybersecurity and theatre, confirming Sir Frank’s entrepreneurial streak.

The Lowy exit marks the end of an era and signals new challenges for the retail sector.

Department stores Myer and David Jones are ailing but the departing Mr Miles pointed to the surge in luxury retailers and predicted more would come into Australia.

He warned that not all shopping centres would come through the industry’s challenges but the local Westfield empire had been dramatically reshaped by asset sales in recent years and efforts to integrate with e-commerce.


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