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Shopping centre families join hands

By Rashmi Kumar

Australia’s family-controlled shopping centre chain Westfield has acquired a 50% stake in a Brazilian family-owned company, as part of its move to enter fast growing emerging markets.

Westfield, the world’s biggest shopping centre chain controlled by the Lowy family, said on 10 August that it has become joint owner of Almeida Junior Shopping Centre, owned by founder Jaimes Almeida Junior and his family.

Once the deal is finalised, Westfield and Almeida will together own and operate five shopping centres in Brazil. Westfield purchased the stake from the Almeida family for A$440 million (€317 million), the group said in a statement.

Second-generation Steven Lowy, who became co-chief executive of the Sydney-based company in May this year, said: “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.”

The jointly owned company will be named Westfield Almeida Junior and Jaimes will be its chief executive officer.

The move marks Westfield’s first foray into emerging markets – the company announced last year that it was looking to enter new markets to further expand globally. So far it has operations in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and US.

Founded by Frank Lowy in 1960, the group passed on company management to the second generation in May – sons Peter and Steven are joint chief executives while Frank became non-executive chairman. The Lowy family has an estimated wealth of $3.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Westfield’s entry into Brazil follows a recent move by Japanese brewer Kirin to take a controlling stake in the Schincariol family-controlled beer maker. But the stake purchase sparked a feud between family shareholders of the Brazilian brewery, after one side of the family accused the other side of selling the stake without any notification (Continue reading here).