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Westfield chairman Sir Frank Lowy has announced that after 57 years the shopping centre giant will be sold to French commercial property company Unibail-Rodamco for $32.7 billion.

Westfield shareholders will receive a combination of cash and stocks in the combined entity.

The combined company, which will use the Westfield name, will own 104 assets attracting 1.2 billion visits annually, "creating a must-have partner for all global retailers and brands across Europe and select markets in the United States", the companies said in a joint statement.

In the new company, Lowy would chair an advisory board while the CEO of Unibail-Rodamco, Christophe Cuvillier, would retain that role.

Unibail was helped by very cheap European debt in the 2.0-2.5 percent range and synergies that will result in about $100 million in cost savings, said Scott Crowe, chief investment strategist at real estate focused CenterSquare Investment Management in Philadelphia.

"Acquiring Westfield provides Unibail-Rodamco with a unique platform of superior-quality shopping destinations from which it can accelerate its strategy of concentration, differentiation and innovation". "It adds a number of new attractive retail markets in London and the wealthiest catchment areas in the United States".

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Commenting on the transaction, Cuvillier said, "All of us at Unibail-Rodamco have huge respect for what the Lowy family and the Westfield team have accomplished with the Westfield brand and the company's iconic collection of world class shopping destinations".

The deal values the Lowy family's stake in Westfield at just over $A3 billion.

Westfield separated its operation in Australia and New Zealand from that in the USA and Europe in 2014.

Under its Australian billionaire chairman and co-founder Frank Lowy, Westfield has pioneered USA mall redevelopment, introducing upscale food courts, high-end restaurants, bars, cinemas and boutique fashion outlets to entice shoppers. Westfield's earning have stayed in line with analyst expectations since the split.

The deal is subject to approval by both companies' shareholders and is expected to close in the first half of next year.

Scentre is not included in the deal with Unibail-Rodamco.