Deferred, not defeated, the Lowy's retreat on Westfield restructure proposal

Deferred, not defeated, the Lowy's retreat on Westfield restructure proposal
Deferred, not defeated, the Lowy's retreat on Westfield restructure proposal

Westfield shareholders attending today's afternoon meeting to vote on the controversial corporate restructure of both shopping centre groups never got to vote.

Just before 4.30pm the final Westfield Retail Trust vote for Westfield’s restructure was deferred.

A possible fortnight timeline for another meeting has been outlined, Bloomberg reported. 

There had been a strong chance that the entire proposal was set to fail after the proxy vote came in at 74.1% to endorse the Scentre Group Merger proposal, given it was short of the 75% needed.

This morning’s meeting saw 97.2 per cent of shareholders vote in favour of the restructure which involves estimated $500 million transactional costs.

Since Westfield unveiled the restructure in early December there has been growing vocal opposition to the deal from Westfield Retail ­investors, who felt the price for the management platform was too high and the deal was inequitable for Westfield Retail security holders.

A few weeks ago Property Observer reported that Westfield Group had succumbed to shareholder pressure and announced it will be improving the terms of its proposed merger for Westfield Trust unit holders by $300 million.

The members of the Westfield Group Board attending today, included directors resident overseas - John McFarlane and Lord Peter Goldsmith from London, Roy Furman from New York and Peter Lowy from Los Angeles.

The Age columnist Malcolm Maiden reported the background to the deferral as being a consequence of Westfield Group chairman Frank Lowy's warning on Thursday morning that Westfield would independently split into separate Australian and international companies if the Westfield-managed Westfield Retail Trust voted down its more sweeping $70 billion restructure plan.

It allowed the Westfield Retail Trust chairman Dick Warburton to suspend WRT's meeting, in part, because the WRT board believed that Mr Lowy's warning was a ''material change''.

The Australian columnist John Durie told Ross Greenwood's Money News on 2GB that he expected the deferral will allow the Lowy's enough time to secure the final approval.

 

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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