Westfield, the world’s largest shopping centre owner, is to write down the value of its properties by around A$3bn (£1.4bn) and cut its 2009 dividend by up to 9%.
The company warned this week that a rise in yields would affect the value of its portfolio at its 31 December year-end, but said that the overall value would exceed the A$50.4bn (£23.6bn) six months earlier, largely as a result of the effect of the strengthening US dollar on the value of its US assets.
It also warned that its dividend for 2009 was likely to be about 97 cents to 100 a share, down from 106.5 cents in 2008.
The news caused its shares to fall initially by around 5%, when the Sydney market opened on Wednesday, before clawing back ground to finish less than 1) lower at A$11.98. This values the company at A$25.5bn (£11.9bn).
It is the first time in more than two decades Westfield has been forced to warn investors of troubled times ahead that will hit its bottom line.
Operationally, Westfield said earnings in 2009 would either be the same as in 2008 or slightly below, reflecting ‘the impact of higher finance costs and the deterioration of retail fundamentals in the US, UK and New Zealand and a continuation of the strong performance of the Australian portfolio’.