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NEWS: JLL is on the Acquisition Trail

Gregory Maloney took the reins as president of the Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Retail Group March 1, succeeding Robert F. Welanetz, who will remain with the company as a project consultant. Maloney, formerly executive vice president and director of shopping centers for Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle, wants to make the company the No. 1 property manager in the retail sector, surpassing Windy City rivals General Growth Properties and Urban Retail Properties. JLL also advises shopping center owners on acquisition opportunities. Steve Webb of sister publication National Real Estate Investor interviewed Maloney about his ambitious plans for JLL's retail group, headquartered in Atlanta.

NREI: What do you see as the biggest challenge to growing the retail group?

Maloney: The biggest challenge no doubt is the development of new clients. We hope to find two or three of those per year that can help us grow. Institutions owned the majority of shopping centers 10 to 15 years ago, but that's really shifted to the REIT ownership model, and REITs self-manage rather than use third-party managers. We want to develop new clients to bid against some of these REITs because retail is viable. It is a good investment, and it's one that shouldn't be dominated purely by the REITs.

NREI: On the property management side, will we continue to see consolidation among service providers?

Maloney: I don't think there are many more of us to consolidate. I can probably count on both of my hands the number of [major] third-party providers. We'll be looking to grow our business, and if can we find someone we can consolidate with or that we can be the aggressor in purchasing, we will absolutely look at that as an opportunity for our growth.

NREI: Which retail product types offer the best opportunities for developers as well as investors?

Maloney: I'm biased toward regional malls. I think they're a great investment. In particular, there are shopping centers that may be the second or third-ranked mall in a market but are great opportunities for an investor to pick up for a good price, go in and re-merchandise and then change it to something that's much more viable than it is today.

NREI: Looking at your company's platform of services, where do you see the prime opportunities for growth?

Maloney: Additional client growth: finding more clients that want to buy shopping centers and assisting them in that process. Instead of buying one shopping center a year, we want them to buy three to four a year. If you get five or six of those types of clients, you're going to be successful. It's a very aggressive growth strategy that might not benefit us as much in 2003 as it will benefit us down the line in 2004 and 2005.

NREI: It's been a rough stretch for Jones Lang LaSalle. The parent company's stock price is hovering at about $13 per share, down from almost $25 per share in late June 2002. What will it take to get the stock price to bounce back?

Maloney: When we see the recovery, which I believe is going to happen toward the middle to end of 2003, I think you'll see the stock price adjust accordingly based on our successes and our wins. Outsourcing is going to be more and more prevalent in the year to come, and Jones Lang LaSalle is positioned very well to be the leader of outsourcing for large companies.

NREI: Where does Jones Lang LaSalle stand among retail service providers now and where do you see it in the next two or three years?

Maloney: We're in the top three [in the United States], but we want to grow beyond that. In three to five years, I see Jones Lang LaSalle as being the largest and best third-party provider for shopping centers. I think some of the smaller companies will either get out of the business, or we will attract their clients because we have the right model.

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