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Interview With David Simon

David Simon, CEO of Simon Property Group, doesn't talk to the media much. So this makes for an interesting read. He did an in-depth interview with SmartMoney magazine that you can see here.

How else does the economy affect you?

If the consumer slows down, will we have some potential cash-flow impact? The answer is yes. I think it will be de minimis. Remember, we're in the real estate business. We are somewhat — I know it's hard to believe — but we are somewhat insulated. These times are also when we can do some of our best transactions. When the economy was slipping into recession in 2001, we did one of the best deals that we've done in terms of buying a high-quality portfolio [of malls] at a very attractive price [from] Rodamco. So we're gearing up.

Are you looking at specific properties or whole companies?

We'll do both because we've always done both. There are some companies that have a little more pressure on them financially than we do, because of the way we have financed our growth. So we look at it as an opportunity.

You say you also can expand your business by actually demolishing department stores in your existing malls?

What you're seeing is, you probably don't need four or five anchor department stores; you may need two or three. That enables us to capture one of the stores, chop it up and bring in other smaller retailers, bookstores, restaurants, theaters, to broaden the appeal to the consumer.

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