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Retail property crush as international firms battle to land roles on £18.5bn Westfield bid

In what has been a busy week for landmark retail property deals, a host of firms from across the globe, including Clifford Chance (CC), Shearman & Sterling and Debevoise & Plimpton are advising as French property company Unibail-Rodamco bids £18.5bn for Westfield Corporation.

Westfield owns 35 shopping centres across the UK and the US, including centres in Stratford, White City and Croydon. Unibail-Rodamco, meanwhile, also owns a number of retail outlets internationally, with the merger expected to create global retail property group worth $72bn.

For Unibail-Rodamco, a group of firms comprising Darrois Villey Malliot Brochier, Allens, NautaDutilh, Shearman & Sterling, CC and Capstan Avocats are supplying legal advice on the transaction. UK Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy (A&O) is giving tax advice, alongside Dutch heavyweight Loyens & Loeff and French outfit Lacourte Raquin Tatar. London tax partner James Burton led for A&O.

Westfield Corporation was represented by King & Wood Mallesons (KWM), Skadden Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom, Greenberg Traurig and Debevoise & Plimpton. Sydney-based M&A partner Jason Watts led for KWM while London M&A partner Michael Goldberg headed Greenberg Traurig’s team. Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and Greenwoods provided Australian tax advice.

For HSF, it is the second major retail property M&A transaction in a week, after advising longstanding client Hammerson on its £3.4bn acquisition of rival Intu.

The Intu buyout will create a £21bn pan-European shopping mall giant and bring London’s Brent Cross, the Birmingham Bullring and Manchester’s Trafford Centre under single ownership.

Corporate partners Alex Kay and Caroline Rae led for HSF alongside corporate consultant David Paterson and antitrust partner Susan Black.

Linklaters corporate partners William Buckley and Iain Wagstaff acted for Intu on the deal while Travers Smith finance partners Anthony Foster and Andrew Gregson represented major Intu shareholder Peel Holdings.

On the Westfield deal, Michael Goldberg at Greenberg said : ‘In the context of the Hammersmith and Intu merger last week, it’s an exciting example of further consolidation in the property industry. For us, it’s an example of developing our business in London and continuing the business we built at KWM. It’s good progress.’