St Lukes Group appoints Westfield manager of NZ shopping centres

10 April 1997

Countries: New Zealand

St Lukes Group and Westfield Holdings Limited today announcedthat they had entered into an agreement with respect to the StLukes Group’s New Zealand shopping centres.

The Chairman of St Lukes Group Limited, Mr Bill Falconer, todayannounced a change in the management structure of the Group withthe appointment of Westfield Holdings to manage and develop theGroup’s $700 million shopping centre portfolio. The responsibilityfor management and development of St Lukes shopping centres waspreviously held in-house.

In addition to the appointment of Westfield, a new ChiefExecutive Officer of St Lukes, Mr Andrew Bennett, was announced.This appointment follows the retirement of the former CEO Mr PaulPreston, due to illness. Mr Bennett has been seconded from BT FundsManagement Limited and is experienced in both asset and fundsmanagement.

Westfield Managing Director, Mr David Lowy, said Westfield’smove was the next stage of Westfield’s international expansionstrategy. Westfield (New Zealand) will be led by Mr Grant Hirst whowill report to David Lowy. Mr Hirst is a senior executive withseveral years experience in retail and property development.

According to Mr Falconer, the decision brings to a conclusionextensive work by the Board to determine how best to position StLukes to meet the challenges of maintaining the company’s dominantposition as a shopping centre management company. The challengecomes in the face of mounting competition, particularly in Aucklandwhere the majority of St Lukes centres are situated.

“The decision to appoint Westfield was unanimously approved bythe Board of St Lukes, following a detailed proposal anddiscussions with key members of Westfield’s management team. Themajor driver of the decision was the Board’s expectation andconfidence that Westfield would add value for the shareholders ofSt Lukes”, he said.

Mr Falconer emphasised Westfield’s pre-eminent market positionas a world class manager and developer of shopping centres as wellas their track record of generating superior earnings for centreowners through innovative leasing, marketing and developmentinitiatives.

“The Board’s decision was based on the expectation thatWestfield will accelerate St Lukes’ earnings growth over the nextfew years, particularly through the development of existing and newcentres, to an extent which could not be achieved by augmentingcurrent management resources”, he said. “This will ultimatelyincrease the investment value of our portfolio.”

Mr Falconer went on to say that one of Westfield’s keycompetitive strengths of particular relevance to St Lukes was theirability to provide a full and integrated shopping centre service,including management, promotion, design, development, constructionand leasing. “The skills and access to worldwide resources whichWestfield brings to the agreement will be a positive addition tothe local knowledge of the present team”, he said.

David Lowy said the move represented a geographic expansion ofthe integrated, retail management and development service Westfieldalready provides to more than 50 shopping centres in Australia, theUnited States and Malaysia.

The St Lukes appointment takes the total number of centresmanaged by Westfield worldwide to 67 and follows recentannouncements of further Westfield expansion plans for its USoperations and the investment by two major European-based pensionfunds in the Westfield Trust.

“Westfield is pleased that St Lukes has chosen it to manage theportfolio”, David Lowy said. “The shopping centres are good assetsand we are confident we can add value for St Lukesshareholders.”

Commenting on the new management structure, Mr Falconer stressedthat the St Lukes management and Board would retain absoluteresponsibility for the creation of value for shareholders, and thatWestfield would be accountable to St Lukes management and Board inthe same way that the previous divisional management had been.

“The St Lukes management team will retain responsibility for theoverall management of the investment portfolio, includingmonitoring and supervising Westfield’s performance, ensuring thatdevelopment proposals will enhance returns to shareholders, andmanaging the company’s capital funding”, he said.

Mr Falconer concluded by remarking on the continued strongperformance of the St Lukes Group, which he attributed to thequality of its shopping centre assets and the dedication of itsteam. “We look forward to further enhancing returns to ourshareholders as we move into a new and exciting era in thedevelopment of St Lukes”, he said.

For further information please contact:
– Bill Falconer
Chairman, St Lukes Group
64 9 302 0894

Wendy Guest
Corporate Communication Manager
Westfield Holdings Limited
61 2 9358 7426 or 61 419 414 753

– Lucy Storey
Public Relations Manager
BT Funds Management Limited
61 2 9259 3906