Shopping centre group Unibail $4.1 bln capital plan hits shares

PARIS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield plans to raise 3.5 billion euros ($4.1 billion) to shore up its balance sheet and cut its debt, knocking the shopping centre owner’s shares on Thursday.

Shopping centres have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic after retailers were forced to shut for several months under government-enforced lockdowns, reducing rental income.

On Wednesday, Unibail said it was raising the capital, limiting dividends in cash and ploughing ahead with asset disposals to protect its investment grade rating, which affects a company’s cost of borrowing.

Shares in the group were down 8% at 0748 GMT, while those of rival Klepierre were 4.6% lower. ($1 = 0.8486 euros) (Reporting by Sarah Morland in Gdansk and Sarah White in Paris; Editing by Alexander Smith)