The opportunity Katzman has his sights set on now: the struggling Mills Corp. Gazit-Globe owns 9 percent of Mills and has offered $25.50 per share for a recapitalization plan worth about $1.2 billion. It's a move that started confrontationally with litigation but has since cooled off with Katzman signing a confidentiality agreement and agreeing not to trade any of his shares until the end of March.
The Mills situation has thrust Katzman onto the public stage he normally avoids. If successful, the move would vault him from being one of the largest owners of strip shopping centers in the Southeast into the elite circle of major national mall developers. Mills owns a combination of 39 mega-outlet malls, entertainment centers and traditional malls across the nation, including Sawgrass Mills, The Falls, Westland Mall and Broward Mall.
''There is a lot of upside in this portfolio,'' said Katzman, who believes the Mills' properties should be improved rather than the pieces of the company sold off. ``I don't claim we're the only one who can do it, but I'm not too shy to say we can't. We feel we can compete.''