Retail recast – how Westfield became Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield
In 2018, the Allens M&A team closed the largest public M&A deal in Australian corporate history – Unibail-Rodamco's $32.7 billion acquisition of Westfield.
The transaction was extraordinary in size, legal complexity and intensity, creating the world's leading developer and operator of flagship shopping destinations, with a portfolio valued at €62 billion and a development pipeline of €13 billion. Partners, Guy Alexander and Charles Ashton take us on a behind-the-scenes look at the lead-up to the announcements of the transaction.
In November 2017, Guy and Charles flew to Paris to discuss an indicative proposal that had been put to Westfield by Unibail-Rodamco. The team had been working on this transaction since 2015, and it now looked as though the parties might finally reach a deal. They were assisted by a larger Allens team, including Andrew Wong, Kate Towey, Marc Kemp and Craig Milner, who worked across multiple time zones. Unable to read anything in their dimly lit hotel rooms, Guy, Charles and the team secured a table in the restaurant downstairs. The waiters seemed a little bemused as the team worked in silence wearing their noise cancelling headphones and ploughed through hundreds of pages of documents ahead of the client briefing.
As negotiations progressed, reinforcements were required, and M&A counsel Andrew Wong joined the team in Paris. Over the next week or so, negotiations gathered momentum. A deal was struck in the early hours of a cold Parisian morning and, after markets closed in Australia, the transaction was announced in the global financial press to much fanfare. By the time the deal closed, the team had flown some 520,000km, eaten approximately 350 croissants, consumed countless cups of café au lait and made Avenue Victor-Hugo and the delightful streets of the 16th arrondissement of Paris a second home. It was a ground-breaking deal and one for the history books.