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Mills Deals

After a bit of arm-twisting from Gazit-Globe Ltd., the Mills Corp. announced new nominations to its board of directors in early December, to be approved at the company's annual shareholder meeting that was held Dec. 29, after Retail Traffic had gone to press. The decision is the result of a settlement worked out by the Delaware Court of Chancery, where Gazit-Globe previously filed a lawsuit against Mills for refusing to set up a meeting date and declining Gazit-Globe board nominations.

Earlier this year, Gazit-Globe, an Israeli real estate investment company led by Equity One CEO Chaim Katzman, became one of Mills' largest stockholders by buying 9 percent of its stock. Mills stock is down nearly 50 percent for the year.

Katzman previously offered the troubled REIT $1.2 billion in recapitalization money, claiming it could still turn itself around, but Mills hasn't accepted the offer.

Gazit-Globe nominations to the Mills board include Jon H. Hagan and Keith M. Locker, both of whom have decades of experience in finance and real estate, as well as Mark S. Ordan, Mills' current president and CEO, and S. Joseph Bruno, a current Mills director and chairman of its audit committee. Hagan, has served as board director with the Bentall Capital Limited Partnership, First Capital Realty Inc. and Sunrise Senior Living Real Estate Investment Trust. Locker at one time served as managing director of the real estate investment banking group at Deutsche Bank Securities and as senior managing director for real estate investment banking at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc.

The Mills announcement coincided with Equity One's announcement that Jeffrey Olson has been appointed to replace Chaim Katzman as company CEO effective December 1, one month earlier than originally planned.

Katzman had resigned from his executive post, but will continue to serve as chairman of Equity One's board.

Mills was also slated to publish its annual report in December, in time for its shareholder meeting.

In other news, Mills closed on the sale of its massive Meadowlands Xanadu development project to Colony Capital, removing what observers say was one of the key obstacles to a sale of the company. Moreover, long-time CEO Larry Siegel stepped down from his post in order to continue working on development of the Xanadu project with its new financial backers.

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