Westfield is expanding its global footprint into Brazil with the acquisition of a 50 per cent interest in Almeida Junior Shopping Centers S.A, a vertically integrated owner, manager and developer of Brazilian shopping malls.

This will be the first market entry since the company entered the UK in 2000.

The company will be investing $440 million into Westfield Almeida Junior, which currently owns and operate five shopping centres in southern Brazil, including two currently under development.

Westfield Group chairman Frank Lowy said the expansion represents a strategic investment for the group.

“Whilst the climate in the world financial markets is volatile at present, this transaction is in the Group’s long term investment and funding plan, and one we have been investigating for an extensive period of time,” he said.

As a result of the transaction, Westfield will operate in five countries – Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States and now Brazil. The group’s assets under management will increase by almost $1 billion. The Group expects to achieve an unlevered internal rate of return in excess of 15 per cent on its invested capital.