Friday, August 10, 2007

Smart Move of the Day: Westfield buys in Florida and sells in St. Louis

Sorry, all you folks in the Show Me State, but Westfield made a great move in my opinion by dumping four malls in St. Louis and buying two in Florida. I am personally not the biggest fan of Florida (the humidity just kills me), but it is the fourth largest state now and poised to grow even more. St. Louis? As Borat says, not so much. (Don't get me wrong, it is a nice town, the presence of the Cardinals notwithstanding.)

Westfield appears to trying to consolidate its holdings in certain growth markets, perhaps with an emphasis on the Sun Belt. So what about Chicago, which is definitely not Sun Belt? One could point to the fact the the Shops at North Bridge is on the market, but let's not forget that (a) Westfield only owns one-third of it together with John Buck Co. and Morgan Stanley and may or may not be selling its stake (my guess is that it will try to stay put), and (b) Westfield owns five other malls in the area: Hawthorn, Old Orchard, Fox Valley, Chicago Ridge and Louis Joliet. My take? They're going nowhere for now.

UPDATE: for more analysis on the St. Louis side of the transaction, particularly with respect to the JV portion of the deal that I did not discuss, check out David Bodamer's post here and his comments posted below.


David Bodamer said...

I think the deal makes sense from CBL's perspective as well. They specialize in secondary markets and this makes them the dominant owner in St. Louis. ... I think it's also interesting that it's not an outright sale, but that Westfield will retain at least an interest in the properties while CBL will take on the task of really managing them.

David Stejkowski said...

Excellent point, David. People in St. Louis may not want to be considered a secondary market, but it is compared to where Westfield is concentrating. CBL will probably do an excellent job to boot.