Bressler, Niel unite to oppose Unibail equity raising

Oct 15 (Reuters) - The former head of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and French billionaire Xavier Neil oppose the shopping mall operator’s planned 3.5 billion euro ($4.11 billion) rights issue, which is intended to fund a recovery plan.

Former CEO Leon Bressler and Niel, founder of French broadband provider Iliad, lead a consortium of investors with a combined 4.1% stake in Unibail.

They oppose the capital increase and are calling on the company to focus on in its portfolio of prime European shopping centres.

Bressler called the plan “a misguided act by a management team that remains prisoner of its failed strategy that started with the acquisition of Westfield.”

He said the group’s high level of debt, caused by the $16 billion Westfield acquisition two years ago, is not a near-term liquidity issue.

The group said in September it would speed up a disposal plan of shopping centres, and had identified some 6 billion euros of assets it could sell as the sector copes with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

$1 = 0.8508 euros Reporting by Sarah Morland in Gdansk; editing by Jason Neely