INDEPENDENT NEWS

Westfield Holdings Reports 14% Profit Increase

Published: Tue 14 Aug 2001 12:52 AM
Westfield Holdings Limited today announced a profit after tax of A$169.1 million for the year to 30 June 2001, up 14.0% on last year¡¦s result of A$148.3 million.
Financial highlights of the year include:
„h Earnings per share on a fully diluted basis were 32.05 cents, up 13.9% on last year.
„h The total dividend payout for the year will be 16.03 cents per share, up 13.3% on last year¡¦s dividend of 14.15 cents. The final dividend of 8.76 cents per share will be paid on 28 September 2001. Dividends continue to be 60% franked.
„h Shopping centre assets under management increased from A$21 billion to A$24.5 billion.
Westfield Managing Directors, Peter and Steven Lowy, said all facets of the business contributed to the result.
Demand for space in Westfield shopping centres in all markets continues to be solid in both existing centres and new projects and the quality of the shopping centres in the global portfolio has underpinned the performance.
The key events of the year included:
„h Westfield¡¦s ongoing global redevelopment program, with projects worth about $1.1 billion completed during the year and a further $4.9 billion either under construction or in the planning process.
„h Westfield America Trust¡¦s acquisition of a 99-year lease of the retail component of the World Trade Center in New York which will now be branded Westfield Shoppingtown World Trade Center. As part of the acquisition, plans have been approved for a substantial expansion of the retail area.
„h The agreement by Westfield America Trust to acquire all outstanding common shares in Westfield America, Inc. held by the public.
The transaction consolidates the ownership of Westfield¡¦s US shopping centre interests in the Australian-listed Westfield America Trust resulting in a more simplified ownership structure with better access to capital.
„h Westfield¡¦s entry into the United Kingdom.
In September 2000 Westfield finalised its acquisition of six shopping centres through a 50:50 joint venture with MEPC. This followed the acquisition of the Broadmarsh centre in Nottingham in May 2000. Westfield now manages a portfolio of seven centres in the UK valued at ₤740 million (A$2.1 billion).
„h The launch of the Westfield Shoppingtown brand into the New Zealand market, with the opening of the redevelopment of Glenfield and WestCity Shoppingtowns in Auckland.
Australia and New Zealand
In Australia, two projects with a combined value of $535 million were completed - Westfield Burwood ($300 million) in Sydney and Westfield Chermside ($235 million) in Brisbane. Stage Two of both the Hornsby project in Sydney (project value $360 million) and Fountain Gate in Melbourne (project value $190 million) were also completed.
Hornsby and Fountain Gate are both due for final completion in late 2001.
Plans are progressing for a number of major redevelopments across the portfolio with the redevelopment of Westfield Bondi Junction in Sydney due to start in the first half of next year.
In New Zealand, in October 2000 Westfield completed the NZ$100 million redevelopment of Glenfield Shoppingtown in Auckland, ushering in a new style of retailing for New Zealand shoppers in terms of design and facilities and the retail mix on offer.
In July 2001 work was completed on the redevelopment of Westfield Shoppingtown WestCity in Auckland. The NZ$84 million project included Westfield¡¦s branded entertainment and lifestyle precinct The Street for the first time in New Zealand, offering shoppers a mix of diverse shopping, cafes and restaurants.
Plans are being finalised for the redevelopment of Westfield Shoppingtowns St Lukes in Auckland and Queensgate in Wellington which are expected to commence later in 2001.
United States
In the US, redevelopment projects valued in excess of US$200 million were completed in the 12 months to 30 June 2001, with a further US$1.2 billion either under construction or in the planning process.
In March, Stage One of the US$165 million redevelopment of Westfield Shoppingtown Valley Fair in San Jose, California, was opened fully leased.
Stage One features 80 new specialty stores, a new Nordstrom department store, food court and additional parking. The redevelopment, which is due for completion in the first half of 2002, will position Valley Fair as the premier shopping destination in the area.
Redevelopments were completed at Independence Mall in Wilmington, North Carolina (US$55 million), Parkway in San Diego (US$14 million), Annapolis (US$23 million) and Montgomery Mall (US$19 million ) in Maryland.
Redevelopments are underway at Westfield Shoppingtowns Enfield in Connecticut, West County and South Country in St Louis, Missouri; The Promenade in Los Angeles and work is about to start on Palm Desert in Los Angeles.
Work is expected to begin soon on redevelopments at Westfield Shoppingtowns Oakridge in San Jose and Wheaton Plaza in Maryland.
United Kingdom
During the year Westfield¡¦s team in the UK was established, with executives from the Australian, NZ and US businesses appointed to work with UK executives to ensure the successful introduction of Westfield¡¦s culture and expertise.
The operational and pre-development objectives set at the time of Westfield¡¦s acquisition of the UK portfolio are being achieved with the centres performing well and plans are moving forward for major redevelopments of a number of centres.
The MEPC transaction initially involved a joint venture for 9 centres, with Westfield and MEPC agreeing to sell three of the properties because they did not fit strategically into the portfolio. Of those three, the Yate Shopping Centre and Two Rivers Retail Park, Staines, have been sold and contracts have been exchanged for the sale of Kensington Shopping Arcade. Westfield has an 18.8% interest valued at ₤15 million (A$42 million) in the fund that acquired Two Rivers Retail Park which is expected to be sold in the short to medium term.
Outlook
Westfield¡¦s Managing Directors, Peter and Steven Lowy, said the growth of the Group¡¦s global shopping centre business is continuing and, barring unforeseen circumstances, they expected to achieve increased profits in the coming year.
ENDS

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