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Second generation takes control at Westfield

By Rashmi Kumar

Frank Lowy, founder of the world’s biggest shopping centre chain Westfield, has stepped down as chief executive of the company and will be succeeded by his two sons.

In a statement made during the group’s annual general meeting on 25 May, Lowy announced that he will become non-executive chairman, while his sons Peter Lowy and Steven Lowy will become joint chief executive officers.

Frank Lowy said during the meeting: “This change is one of many that have been carefully planned over the past 10 years…and is at a time which is right for the company. We have paid close attention to making sure we have the right people in the right jobs…and have been pretty successful at it.”

Eighty-year-old Lowy steps down after 25 years running the business he founded in 1960. Peter and Steven had previously served as joint managing directors of the group. Frank’s first son David, deputy chairman of Westfield, also announced at the meeting he was exiting the group board but will continue to be responsible for the family’s shareholding.

Frank Lowy added: “All of this demonstrates a remarkable level of stability for a large global organisation and the changes announced continue that stability, with ongoing commitment from the Lowy family.”

The management changes come as the group looks to further expand in continental Europe. Westfield Group today has a total of 119 shopping centres spread across Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US. It opened Westfield London in 2008, which produced sales of $1.46 billion in the 12 months to March this year.

It will also open Westfield Stratford in London later this year, expected to be the largest shopping centre in Europe.

The group had 2010 revenues of $3.62 billion, down from $4.12 billion the year before. The Lowy family has an estimated wealth of $3.6 billion, according to Forbes.