Westfield America Trust (WFA) and British-based Prudential plc announced today that they have entered into a letter of intent for Westfield America to acquire a 50% interest in Fashion Square Sherman Oaks in Los Angeles, for $67 million from a U.S. affiliate of Prudential plc.
The letter of intent also provides for a U.S. affiliate of Prudential plc to acquire up to a 50% interest in Westfield America's Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., in stages through May 2005.
Fashion Square Sherman Oaks is a two-level regional mall located on the 101 (Ventura) Freeway in Sherman Oaks, California, a suburban area in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. The center currently encompasses about 848,000 sq. ft. with 120 specialty shops and is anchored by Bloomingdales and Macy's.
Westfield Shoppingtown Garden State Plaza is a 2 million-sq.-ft. super-regional mall located in Paramus, N.J., and is anchored by Nordstrom, Macy's, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor. It was built in 1957 and acquired by Westfield in 1986, with its latest expansion completed by Westfield in 1996, including the addition of Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus and 235,000 sq. ft. of specialty store space.
Westfield's managing director, Peter Lowy, said the company was pleased with the transaction and with the opportunity to joint venture with Prudential plc. "The transaction means Westfield America will increase its U.S. portfolio to 62 centers, and increase to 12 the number of centers in the Los Angeles market," he said. "This fits well with our growth and clustering strategy and provides outstanding market synergies. Following the sale to Prudential our remaining interest in Garden State Plaza represents the single largest investment in our U.S. portfolio and this transaction provides us with additional cash resources for further expansion in the U.S.," said Lowy.
Nick Thompson, head of fund management for Prudential plc's real estate group in London, echoed Lowy's enthusiasm. "Prudential plc is very pleased with the prospect of partnering with Westfield America. Westfield brings great leasing and property management expertise to Fashion Square as well as significant and meaningful scale in the Los Angeles retail marketplace. This also provides the opportunity for Prudential plc to geographically diversify our U.S. retail investment in one of the major fortress malls in the New York area," Thompson said.
Goldman, Sachs & Co. is advising Westfield America in this transaction, and J.P. Morgan Fleming Asset Management is advising Prudential plc.
Westfield America Trust is the second-largest property trust listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. WFA owns a majority interest in the Westfield America portfolio of 62 centers, branded as Westfield Shoppingtowns.
Prudential plc is one of the largest life insurance companies in the United Kingdom and a leading financial services group with operations in Europe, Asia and the United States (not affiliated with Prudential Financial of the United States).