Westfield rules out a bid for General Growth

Posted May 27, 2010 at 6:21 a.m.

Dow Jones Newswires | Australian shopping mall giant Westfield
Group on Thursday ruled out a bid for General Growth Properties Inc.,
saying it would only look at individual assets its bankrupt U.S. rival
puts on the market.

With the retail sector looking up in its main markets and a robust balance sheet boasting almost A$8 billion liquidity, Westfield apparently decided a tilt at GGP was not worth the effort.

Westfield Chairman Frank Lowy, Australia’s richest man, declared “the book is closed” on a GGP bid, three months after the Sydney-based group is believed to have entered discussions on a possible offer.

If a distressed GGP, the second-largest U.S. shopping mall owner, offered some of its 204 properties for sale, then Lowy said Westfield would probably be interested.

“Under new circumstances, we will evaluate those circumstances and make a decision on those particular properties that they are talking about,” he told reporters after Westfield’s annual general meeting in Sydney.

Lowy added: “Westfield always has its eyes and ears open to new growth opportunities.”

GGP, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, already has a preferred US$6.5 billion bid from a consortium led by Brookfield Asset management Inc.

Westfield has 119 malls in the U.S., Australia and Britain.

The company has already noted a turnaround in Australia’s retail performance and Lowy said the same now seemed to be happening in the U.S and U.K.

“We are beginning to see more positive signs emerging in the economic fundamentals in the markets in which we operate,” he said.

“The results from our first quarter of operations this year confirm this better outlook. We saw continued strong results from the Australian portfolio and are now seeing improvement in retail sales performance in both the United States and United Kingdom.”


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