Here’s why Westfield shareholders are holding their breath today

Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) went into a trading halt today pending a vote from Westfield Retail Trust  (ASX: WRT) shareholders over the conditions of the company restructure.

Westfield Group shareholders already voted in favour of the restructure, which will see the group assume responsibility for Westfield’s overseas assets from 30 June.

Westfield Retail Trust shareholders have been dragging their heels however, with many feeling that the proposed terms of the split unfairly benefit Westfield Group shareholders at their expense.

Assuming the vote today approves the split, Westfield Retail Trust will be renamed Scentre Group and will assume responsibility of Westfield’s Australia and New Zealand property assets. The boards of both companies feel that the split is likely to result in faster growth for both businesses, as well as delivering simplicity and efficiency benefits.

Shareholders will also benefit from increased transparency and the ability to select a company based on geographical exposure.

Westfield Group shareholders will own 100% of Westfield Corporation (consisting of Westfield America Trust, Westfield Corporation Limited, and WFD Trust) and 48.6% of Scentre Group (consisting of Westfield Holdings, Westfield Trust, Westfield Retail Trusts 1 and 2).

Current Westfield Retail Trust securityholders will own the remaining 51.4% of Scentre Group.

If the restructure proceeds as planned, Scentre Group and Westfield Group could begin trading as early as 25 June on a deferred settlement basis, while the record date for 1H dividend is 27 June. If it doesn’t, Westfield will continue to trade as normal and expects to announce a record date some time in August, in line with its usual practice.

Westfield Group expects to make an announcement regarding the vote later today, or on Monday, before the recommencement of normal trading on 24 June.

It’s an exciting time to be a Westfield shareholder for sure, but if you’re looking for a little less uncertainty with your investments, why not sign up to Take Stock, our free investing newsletter?

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Motley Fool contributor Sean O'Neill owns shares in Westfield Group.

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