PARIS — French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco has moved closer to closing its $24.7 billion mega mall deal to buy Sydney-based Westfield Corp., overcoming regulatory hurdles on several fronts, the companies said Thursday.Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board said the deal complies with the country’s law on foreign takeovers, according to a joint statement from Unibail and Westfield.Meanwhile, French and Dutch market authorities have approved filings related to the transaction and the public listing of shares for the combined entity in Paris and Amsterdam, scheduled to take place on June 5.According to the filings, Unibail shareholders will vote on the deal at a meeting on May 17, followed by Westfield shareholders, who meet on May 24.Plans to create a $72.2 billion giant in terms of gross market value were made public in December. Together the companies will have a presence in 27 countries, including the World Trade Center in New York, and shopping centers in San Francisco and London. Westfield has bought stores from J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Sears Holdings Corp. and Lord & Taylor, with plans to revamp space to house other businesses such as home goods and grocery stores, discounters or gymnasiums. Unibail has a strong presence in large European cities.Mergers have become a key form of defense for mall operators struggling to cope with the drop in business as consumers shift their attentions to digital shopping.Earlier this month, French realtor Klépierre made a bid for U.K.-based rival Hammerson plc. The offer was rejected by the British mall company, which has its own deal in the works and is trying to buy Intu Properties.
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