Lowys look to raise $665m in exiting Westfield Trust

THE Lowy family's investment vehicle, run by the eldest son David, wants to raise almost $665 million through the sale of its 7 per cent stake in the Westfield Retail Trust.

THE Lowy family's investment vehicle, run by the eldest son David, wants to raise almost $665 million through the sale of its 7 per cent stake in the Westfield Retail Trust.

The broking house UBS has been instructed to sell 214.8 million securities in WRT, at $3.09 each. It is currently being undertaken by way of a fixed-price bookbuild.

The sale comes only a day after the chief executives, Steven and Peter Lowy, reported an 18 per cent rise in net profit to $1.7 billion for the Westfield group's full-year result.

The spin-off Westfield Retail Trust, which has a 50 per cent stake in the Australian and New Zealand centres, reported a net profit of $830.8 million for the 2012 year, which was a drop on the $849.1 million a year earlier, due to a fall in some property valuations.

Both groups said the results came amid a tough retail sales environment in Australia, which is being partially offset by a rise in sales in the United States and Britain.

The Lowy family has extensive interests in a range of assets and has been steadily selling its direct holdings. It holds about 8 per cent in the parent group, Westfield.

Westfield Retail Trust was formed in December to own a half share in Westfield's 54 shopping centres in Australia and New Zealand, worth about $12 billion.

By separating the businesses, the Westfield Group will focus on developing and upgrading existing centres across around the world, while the trust will manage the Australian and New Zealand centres.

Westfield Retail Trust's full-year distributable earnings was $572.6 million, 2 per cent up on the previous corresponding period and in line with market expectations.

JP Morgan's analysts said Westfield's profit was solid and predictable.