Chicago Real Estate Daily highlighted an interesting nugget revealed during General Growth's fourth quarter earnings call--that the firm is intending to slim down even more. General Growth owned 216 malls before its restructuring that resulted in a split into two different entities.
The main entity today owns 169 malls, but it will scale back even further:
Sandeep Mathrani, who has been the CEO of the No. 2 U.S. mall owner for about 40 days, said Tuesday that he expects to reduce the number of malls the company owns to 150 from its current 169. It plans to sell the 19 other malls, which contribute a minimal amount to its income.
Given that it's moving its weakest properties, this probably won't make for a massive deal. It will be interesting to see who steps up. Will a rival REIT with a lower-grade portfolio make a move here? Or will we see private money go after the assets?
In other interesting REIT news, Westfield announced that Frank Lowy will step down as executive chairman of Westfield Group and hand the day to day control of the firm to his sons. Bloomberg has the report
Frank Lowy, 80, will become non-executive chairman, while Peter and Steven Lowy will become joint chief executive officers, the Sydney-based shopping mall developer said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange today.
The move to change Peter and Steven Lowy's current position of co-managing directors follows the company's creation of a new listed property trust that jointly invests in Westfield's Australian and New Zealand shopping centers. It comes as the company seeks further joint ventures for its U.S. and U.K. operations.
In other changes, Chief Financial Officer Peter Allen will stand for election as a director. David Lowy, Frank's oldest son, and director David Gonski won't seek re-election to the board, and Brian Schwartz, a director since May 2009, will replace David Lowy as deputy chairman.
“The time is right for these moves,” Frank Lowy, who founded the first Westfield center in the Sydney suburb of Blacktown in 1959 with fellow Hungarian immigrant John Saunders, said in the statement. “I am healthy and committed and I will continue to contribute to the group which has been my life for more than 50 years.”
Aside from that news, here are some other interesting news and notes from around the retail real estate world.
- J. Crew Buyout Plan Approved (Wall Street Journal)
- Investors Look to Expand Retail Portfolios (Wall Street Journal)
- Commercial Property Deals May Double in U.S. as Blackstone Bets on Rebound (Bloomberg)
- Talbots tests new store format (Boston Globe)
- Plan to enlarge Americana mall takes a big step forward (L.A. Times)
- Toys R Us mulls $800 million IPO for April: report (Chicago Tribune)