Westfield America, Inc. (NYSE:WEA) announces acquisition of Independence Mall in Wilmington, North Carolina
13 August 1998
Countries: United States
Los Angeles, California, August 13, 1998 – Westfield America, Inc. (NYSE: WEA) today announced that it has agreed to acquire through its operating partnership a 60% interest in Independence Mall, located in Wilmington, North Carolina, for $37.4 million including the assumption of $19.8 million in debt. The acquisition price will be satisfied with $3.4 million in cash and the issuance of 786,286 units by the operating partnership, with each such unit being convertible into a share of Westfield America common stock. The Oleander Group and the other Wilmington-based limited partners will retain their existing interests.
Independence Mall is a 788,953 square foot regional shopping center anchored by Belk, JCPenney and Sears. The center has 77 specialty stores. Total annual sales for 1997 were approximately $160 million with specialty store sales per square foot of $293. Occupancy cost as a percentage of sales is 9%. Independence Mall serves the greater Wilmington metropolitan area, and is the only regional shopping destination within a 50-mile radius. The Wilmington market is one of North Carolina’s fastest growing markets with a projected population growth of over 15% through the year 2002.
Richard Green, President, said, “We are very pleased with the acquisition of Independence Mall. The regional center offers Westfield America an excellent redevelopment opportunity to expand and renovate the mall to meet the needs of the rapidly growing Wilmington market. Independence Mall fits the acquisition criteria of our growth strategy.”
High rates of growth in the Wilmington market can be attributed to several factors. The extension of Interstate 40 from Raleigh (the state capital of North Carolina) to Wilmington has fueled a great deal of the market’s growth due to increased accessibility. Other contributing factors to the high growth rate in Wilmington are the mild climate, low crime, proximity to Atlantic Ocean beaches and recreation and affordable housing. The Wilmington area ranks third in the production of motion pictures and television shows behind Los Angeles and New York City.
Westfield America, Inc. (NYSE: WEA), a real estate investment trust, is one of the nation’s leading owners of regional shopping centers. With this acquisition, the company owns interests in 29 major shopping centers, and after the acquisition of the portfolio of shopping centers from TrizecHahn previously announced by the Company, the Company will have interests in 38 major shopping centers, encompassing 35.2 million square feet in the states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina and Washington.