Business Notes: Westfield Acquired by French Shopping Center Company

Plus: Marriott plans to open 40 luxury hotels next year; United Therapeutics testing genetically targeted drugs


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Westfield malls acquired by French company

The French shopping center company Unibail-Rodamco agreed this week to purchase Westfield Corp., the Australian company that owns dozens of malls in the United States and Europe, including Westfield Montgomery mall in Bethesda and Westfield Wheaton, for $15.7 billion.

The deal was seen by commercial real estate analysts as a way for the shopping center operators to buttress and consolidate their business against the threat of online retail competition, according to The Financial Times. With Westfield’s mall portfolio, Unibail will now own 104 shopping centers in 13 countries.

Westfield has invested significantly in its properties in recent years as shoppers have left many suburban malls behind. At Westfield Montgomery, for example, the company spent $90 million to construct the “dining terrace” addition to the Bethesda mall. The 40,000-square-foot expansion is home to about a dozen restaurants and the ArcLight Cinemas movie theater.

Marriott plans to open 40 luxury hotels in 2018

Marriott has ambitious plans next year as it works to attract affluent travelers. The Bethesda-based hotel company announced this week it aims to open 40 new luxury hotels in 2018. Hotel brands Marriott plans to expand include The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, St. Regis, W Hotels and The Luxury Collection.

The 40 new luxury hotels are a portion of the 200 new hotels Marriott expects to open next year.

“We see luxury as a launch pad for self-actualization, with bucket lists evolving from where you want to go to who you can be,” Tina Edmundson, the global brand officer for Marriott, said. “With data showing a global shift in perception around luxury, we are uniquely positioned to provide personalized and truly differentiated experiences that resonate with this next-generation jetsetter.”

United Therapeutics is testing genetically targeted drugs

Silver Spring-based United Therapeutics, which has been developing a process to grow human organs, is now working on ways to determine if it can use genetic testing to identify which people will most benefit from its drugs.

Martine Rothblatt, the company’s CEO, told business leaders at a Leadership Greater Washington event earlier this month that she wants United Therapeutics to master the technology known as pharmacogenomics, according to The Washington Business Journal.

To do so, the company has been sequencing the genomes of clinical trial participants, so it can later analyze if genetic factors might have made a drug more or less effective for a particular patient. Rothblatt said the analysis could help reduce costs of the Federal Drug Administration’s approval process for new drugs by being able to accurately demonstrate which patients stand to benefit from a new drug by using the genetic analysis.

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