Why the family behind Westfield moved to sell, not hand down empire

The Lowys are selling the company to Unibail-Rodamco for $15.7B

Frank, Peter, and Steven Lowy (Credit: Getty Images)
Frank, Peter, and Steven Lowy (Credit: Getty Images)

The Lowy family that built Westfield Corporation into one of the biggest mall owners across the globe looks like a real estate dynasty in many ways, but not when it comes to retaining control of that empire.

“Westfield always was dominated by the family, but it was never meant to be one of those dynasties to be handed down,” Westfield co-chief executive Peter Lowy told the Wall Street Journal.

Unibail-Rodamco’s $15.7 billion purchase of Westfield is one of the unusual cases of a real estate family giving up control, but in line with the Lowy’s family philosophy.

Holocaust survivor Frank Lowy took the company public in 1960. And while his sons – Peter Lowy, 58, and Steven Lowy, 55 – serve as co-chief executives, none of their children are active in the company.

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Peter Lowy said the family “consciously didn’t” lead the next generation toward careers at Westfield “because it was a public company.”

“My dad never believed, I don’t believe and my brother doesn’t believe that just because of us, you would not take [the sale to Unibail] to its logical conclusion,” he said.

Peter Lowy, who lives in Los Angeles, had considered leaving Westfield in 2015 after company split in two, before the board and his father changed his mind.

Unibail in 2014 made a bid to buy Westfield, but was rejected for being too low, according to the Journal. [WSJ]Rich Bockmann