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Split of Westfield Group lets Lowy family focus on international business

Multi-billion dollar family-controlled shopping mall chain Westfields has only just gained enough shareholder votes to split the group into two independent companies.

Westfield Group currently has 87 properties across Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, but under the restructure the business’s Australasian assets will merge with the Westfield Retail Trust (WRT) to form the Scentre Group.

The split leaves Westfield Group, controlled by the Lowy family, to focus on its international business.

A threshold of 75% voter approval was needed from WRT shareholders for the split to go ahead, which was only just met with 76% in favour.

Westfield Group shareholders already voted in favour of the bid last month with 98% approval.

The Australian Shareholders Association has previously said it was opposed to the restructure and has pointed out that the Lowy family sold its AUS$665 million stake in WRT several months prior to the announcement about the proposal in December last year.

The company said the restructure was proposed because both companies had grown to an appropriate size and competitive level to be able to “thrive on their own”.

A provisional date for trading to commence for Scentre Group has been set for 25 June, but this is subject to approval from the New South Wales Supreme Court.

Peter and Steven Lowy, who head the current group, will remain co-chief executives of the new international business. Their father, who founded the chain in 1950, will be chairman of both businesses.

The retail chain has kept the Lowy family on Australia’s BRW Rich 200 list since it was launched in 1983.

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