Lowy family’s reign ends at Westfield

Steven Lowy plans to stand down from the Scentre board. Picture: AAP
Steven Lowy plans to stand down from the Scentre board. Picture: AAP

The Lowy family has severed yet another link with the Westfield shopping centre empire that family patriarch Sir Frank Lowy co-founded in 1960, as his son Steven, the last member of the family to remain on the board of local owner Scentre Group, flagged his intention to step down.

Scentre is the owner and operator of Westfield in Australia and New Zealand and has interests in 41 centres, with total assets under management of $53.4 billion, and it remains bullish on the outlook for top retail outlets.

But the family has been winding down its involvement with the Westfield empire, with Sir Frank last December engineering the biggest deal in Australian corporate history: the $US24.7 billion ($32 billion) sale of Westfield Corporation, which owned the group’s international malls, to French company Unibail-Rodamco.

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Steven, Sir Frank’s third and youngest son behind brothers Peter and David, last night announced he would retire and not seek re-election as a director of Scentre at the company’s annual general meeting in April next year. He formally advised the board of his decision at a meeting yesterday, saying he considered it the right time to step down.

“It has been a privilege to serve on the board of Scentre Group since it was established following the restructure of the Westfield Group in 2014,” Lowy says.

Centre chairman Brian Schwartz says Steven has “brought a unique perspective to the board with his unmatched knowledge of the global retail property industry”.

With brother Peter, Steven was co-chief executive of Westfield Corporation, ahead of its sale to Unibail-Rodamco, running the global business from his Sydney base.

Frank Lowy Westfield

Frank Lowy with his sons Peter, left, and Steven. Picture: James Croucher

“It is not easy to leave a position in a business that has been such a large part of my life for over 30 years.

“I do so knowing that Scentre Group is in great hands and is well positioned for further growth,” Mr Lowy said.

In 2013, the Lowy family sold its 7.1% stake in the Westfield Retail Trust, which owned Australian malls, for about $664 million.

The Lowy Family Group has a near 4% stake in Scentre but Lowy says that remains intact since its establishment in 2014 and is “independent from his position on the board”. Steven Lowy remains as chairman of the OneMarket technology business that was spun off as part of the sale to the French group.

In August, he said he would end more than 50 years of his family’s involvement with soccer, revealing he would end his tenure as chairman of Football Federation Australia.

Lowy, who took over at the FFA from billionaire father in 2015, said in August he would not renominate for the position, blaming political infighting for his decision as the internecine war engulfing soccer raged on.

Since the Westfield sale, the Lowy family has flagged a series of investments in fast-moving technology groups and venture capital plays.

This article originally appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au/property.