Australia's Westfield Group expands into Brazilian market

Aug.11th,2011       Visited:      Font Size: Big   Medium   Small

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     Australia's company Westfield Group, one of the world's largest retail property groups, on Wednesday announced its entry into the Brazilian market through acquisition of a 50 percent interest in Almeida Junior Shopping Centers SA, a Brazilian shopping mall owner.

    Westfield will invest 440 million AU dollars (455.31 million U. S. dollars) in Almeida Junior and become a 50 percent owner and active partner in the company to be renamed Westfield Almeida Junior Shopping Centers SA.

    As a result of this acquisition, Westfield Group will expand its global platform into the growing Brazilian shopping center market, the company says.

    "Today's announcement represents an exciting and significant strategic investment for the Group which expands our global franchise into this large and high potential market," Westfield chairman Frank Lowy said in a statement.

    Lowy said the investment was Westfield's first new market entry since the company entered the United Kingdom in 2000.

    "Whilst the climate in the world financial markets is volatile at present, this transaction is in the Group's long term investment and funding plan, and one we have been investigating for an extensive period of time," Lowy said.

    The Brazilian company, led by its founder and CEO Jaimes Almeida Junior, has been operating shopping centers in Brazil since 1993.

    Westfield Almeida Junior will own and operate five shopping centers in southern Brazil, including two currently under development, Westfield Group says.

    "The underlying characteristics of the Brazilian market combined with a strong and diversified local retailer base and growing consumer spending makes Brazil a strategic long term growth opportunity for the Group," Westfield co-chief executive Steven Lowy said.

    Brazil is the seventh largest economy in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) of approximately 2.1 trillion U.S. dollars and a population of approximately 190 million people. Brazil's economic growth has increased substantially over recent years and has seen a significant increase in its middle class population. More than 110 million people in Brazil are now considered to be middle class or above.

    The acquisition extends Westfield's footprint to a fifth country, after Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the United States.