UPDATE 1-Westfield-owner Unibail sees prolonged COVID-19 impact as Q1 revenue slumps

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April 28 (Reuters) - Westfield shopping mall owner Unibail said on Wednesday it expected its 2021 performance to be hit by longer and tougher pandemic-related restrictions that have continued beyond the first quarter, when turnover slumped 40% from a year earlier.

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), which also counts Forum des Halles in Paris and Madrid’s La Vaguada among its assets, did not provide earnings guidance for the full year due to uncertainty over when its markets would reopen.

At the end of March, French President Emmanuel Macron ordered France into its third national lockdown, further denting revenue from the group’s biggest market that in 2019 made up 29% of its rental income.

However, URW said it was confident for the latter part of the year and 2022 thanks to strong footfall whenever lockdowns were lifted.

“We see positive signs of a return to normality whenever restrictions are eased, thanks to pent-up consumer demand,” chief executive, Jean-Marie Tritant, said in a statement.

Macron is set to outline on Friday the progressive relaxation of restrictions in France.

The group also announced the sale of a 45% stake in Shopping City Süd in Austria and the phased disposal of Aupark in Slovakia.

Upon completion of the deals, it will have completed 1.35 billion euros of its planned 4 billion euro European asset disposals.

Unibail, which has been selling off prime assets and taking out more long-term debt as it looks to refinance upcoming maturities, said in February it would complete the remaining European asset disposals before the end of 2022.

It reported a January-March proportionate turnover of 566.7 million euros ($685.20 million).

$1 = 0.8271 euros Reporting by Milla Nissi in Gdansk; Editing by Jane Merriman, Kirsten Donovan