Why the Unibail Rodamco Westfield (ASX:URW) share price is up 63% in 5 days

The Unibail Rodamco Westfield share price is soaring again today, up 17% in intraday trading and 63% in 5 days. Here’s why…

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The Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX: URW) share price is on a tear again today, up 17% in late afternoon trading. That brings Unibail’s share price gains to a whopping 63% since the closing bell rang last Monday 9 November. Despite the past week’s stellar performance, the Unibail share price is still down 58% year to date.

The brick and mortar retailer was already struggling with high debt levels and some questionable asset acquisitions heading into 2020. And then its share price was savaged by COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing in Europe, the United States and Australia, which saw many of its shopping centres temporarily shuttered.

What does Unibail Rodamco Westfield do?

Unibail is one of Europe’s largest commercial real estate companies, owning a portfolio of quality retail and office complexes. It has assets in Europe, the United Kingdom and the US.

Unibail acquired Australian shopping centre operator Westfield Corporation, created by the split of Westfield Group, in 2018. This saw the Unibail share price first list on the ASX. The company makes up part of the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO).

Why is the Unibail share price up 17% again today?

The Unibail share price began its upward surge last Tuesday 10 November. This came after the company announced shareholders had rejected the supervisory board’s 3.5 billion euro (AU$5.7 billion) capital raising via the issue of ordinary shares.

The capital raising was part of the company’s wider ‘Reset’ plan and was intended to repay some of its outstanding debt.

However, the resolution was stringently opposed by a group of activist investors, led by Leon Bressler and Xavier Niel, who succeeded in derailing the capital raise part of the Reset plan.

In an ASX release yesterday, Unibail announced a major shakeup to its supervisory board that unfolded on Friday.

Colin Dyer resigned as chair of the board, while remaining on as a member of the board.

Leon Bressler was appointed as chair with immediate effect, while Xavier Niel took up the position on the board as member of the remuneration committee.

Investors clearly appear pleased with the new management, alongside its decision to axe the controversial capital raising in favour of more aggressively disposing of non-performing assets.

Today’s 17% leap in the Unibail share price would likely have occurred yesterday, had the ASX not shut down over a software update glitch.

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