In November, grocery shopping center Regency Centers (REG) announced plans to acquire real estate investment trust Equity One (EQY) for $4.6 billion. This deal shows the need for consolidation in the U.S. shopping center sector, according to Gazit Globe Chairman Chaim Katzman.
Katzman appeared on BloombergTV's "Bloomberg Markets: Americas" on Monday. Gazit Globe is an international owner, developer and operator of supermarket-anchored shopping centers, as well as Equity One's largest shareholder.
BloombergTV anchor Julie Hyman asked Katzman why this deal makes sense right now.
"It tells you more about the need to consolidate," Katzman said. "Where bigger is better, the combined entity would own more than 400 shopping centers in the core markets throughout the United States."
Katzman sees the combined company as a "one of a kind" and believes it will be a "must-own name" that will create more diversity and have better pricing power.
Hyman pressed again as to why this deal makes sense now, considering for example all the trouble apparel stores are facing as more shoppers move online.
"Our asset class is somewhat protected from the Internet," he replied. "More than 50% of our income comes from services that cannot be rendered on the Internet. You cannot go to see a doctor on the Internet, not yet at least."
Katzman sees the supermarket-anchored shopping centers as more resistant to e-commerce than other retail sectors.
BloombergTV's Mark Barton joined the conversation to ask a "European-centric question." Barton noted the company's strong presence in nations including Germany, Russia, Estonia, Finland and Sweden. He asked Katzman about "what's hot and what's not" in Europe now.
"What's hot in Europe I think is the Nordic region, predominantly Sweden and Norway, Denmark, not so much Finland," he said. "In central Europe, Poland and the Czech Republic are doing well."
Barton noted that Gazit Globe doesn't have a presence in the U.K. He asked if Brexit presents the company with an "entry opportunity."
"It is conceivable," he responded. "I will tell you that we paid a few visits and talked to people. My gut is telling me it's a bit too early, but in due course, in the next couple of years we believe there might be an opportunity in England."
Moving on to the current holiday shopping season, Hyman asked Katzman about the strength of this year vs. last. Katzman said 2016 is stronger than 2015, and the company is seeing that strength not just in the U.S. but all over the world.