According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Greenwich, Conn.’s Starwood (STWD) Capital Group is on the cusp of acquiring majority stakes in a portfolio of U.S. shopping malls from Westfield Group, a Sydney-based retail property group.
The purchase price is said to be roughly $1 billion and the seven malls have not been identified, though several are thought to be part of a group of malls Westfield put on the market last year.
A spokesman for Starwood Capital Group, which is led by Barry Sternlicht, declined to comment to The Commercial Observer about the speculation surrounding the malls. The Westfield Group announced a sell-off of non-core U.S. assets last month.
It could be a tricky time to get into the business of malls. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ most recent U.S. Mall Performance report, which looked mainly at last year’s holiday period, sales were not spectacular. In fact, even with the holidays in full-swing, U.S. mall sales fell slightly by 0.4 percent from between November and December 2011.
Malls in the western region of the U.S. were off a whopping 2.9 percent and other regions were fairly flat.