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REIT CEOs Reveal Plans for 2004

Seventy-two companies are attending Smith Barney's REIT CEO conference in Florida this week, making presentations to investors about the state of their businesses. Here are some of the highlights from the presentations:

Thirty-five percent of leases are now incorporating fixed-CAM (common area maintenance) reimbursements at General Growth Properties' malls. Simon Property Group also indicated it's moving to fixed CAM in an attempt to improve CAM recovery rates. But Macerich execs said they do not see an advantage to moving leases over to fixed CAM because they see a number of unpredictable expenses that can go either way, i.e. real estate taxes. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based REIT is writing all new leases with rents that are pegged to rises in the consumer price index.

Simon execs said they wouldn't focus on acquisitions in the coming year, though the Indianapolis-based REIT is pursuing buying Puerto Rico's Carolina Mall and pursuing joint-venture stakes in two Kravco properties.

Birmingham, Ala.-based Colonial Properties Trust is seeking to sell about $750 million worth of its 17 regional malls and redirect proceeds into its multifamily properties. The REIT wants to return to the portfolio mix it had at its IPO: 40 percent retail, 40 percent multifamily and 20 percent office. Executives indicated the divestiture would occur at a one-off pace, says Smith Barney's Ross Nussbaum. "Since the company does not appear to have a near-term acquisition pipeline, we are not expecting a major transaction to occur in the next 3-6 months."

Kimco Realty Corp. might go the way of Acadia Realty Trust and beef up the opportunistic side of its business -- purchasing properties from distressed retailers, conducting 1031 exchanges, and forming a leveraged-buyout venture to purchase retailers whose real estate is worth more than the retailer itself.

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