(Bloomberg) -- Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, one of the world’s largest mall landlords, is considering raising new equity as the retail industry battles the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, people familiar with the matter said.
The company, which operates sprawling Westfield shopping centers in Europe and the U.S., has been in early discussions with potential advisers about fundraising options, according to the people. It is considering a rights offering and may aim to raise about 3 billion euros ($3.5 billion) if it decides to proceed, the people said.
URW could seek to raise capital as soon as the next few months, though details of the structure and potential size haven’t been finalized, the people said. Shares of URW have fallen about 68% in Amsterdam trading this year, giving the company a market value of about 6.3 billion euros.
The company may seek to raise a larger amount to take advantage of opportunities to expand at a time when competitors are struggling, the people said. Deliberations are at an early stage, and there’s no certainty they will lead to a deal, according to the people. A representative for URW declined to comment.
Mall owners have been hit hard this year by lockdowns that have forced retailers to shut their doors and led many to miss rent payments. While retailers are taking tentative steps to reopen, for some large commercial landlords the damage has been done.
Intu Properties Plc collapsed into administration in June after failing to agree on waivers with its lenders. London-listed Hammerson Plc will raise 825 million pounds ($1.1 billion) through a rights issue and is considering the sale of some prized assets to help it through the pandemic, it said this month.
URW agreed to pay almost $16 billion for Australia’s Westfield Corp. in 2017 as increasing online sales pushed mall operators to consolidate. The group today operates 89 shopping centers across 12 countries, according to its website. Its property portfolio also includes offices and convention and exhibition spaces.
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