General Growth, Mall Owner, May Be Facing a Sale - Mergers, Acquisitions, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds -- DealBook - New York Times:
"...financing strategy, with debt equal to more than 70 percent of its capitalization, raised fears that General Growth, a real estate investment trust based in Chicago with more than 200 shopping centers, had become overleveraged — fears that have now been borne out."While business itself was pretty good, the debt that is coming due is too much for the company.
"In a conference call...on July 31, Mr. Bucksbaum said that mall occupancy during the second quarter was 93.2 percent, a record. The company has remained largely unaffected by the wave of recent retail bankruptcies....Thus,
But the company has $8.5 billion in debt coming due before the end of 2010, most of it in the form of maturing mortgage loans. Refinancing the debt is considered highly unlikely because of the credit squeeze and the decline in retail real estate values stemming from the economic downturn."
"....the company dismissed its longtime chief financial officer and suspended its dividend. Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s have reduced the company’s credit ratings.....As is always the case, debt makes good times great, and bad times horrible. Here is just another example. Too bad it had to happen to a cycling enthusiast whose family business goes back to the family grocery store! (and with ties to Cedar Rapids too!)
General Growth said it was exploring a variety of options, including the sales of individual properties and partnerships with other companies, to “align the market value of the company’s common stock more closely with the intrinsic value” of its shopping malls.
The company has also postponed $1.1 billion of projects....Despite these efforts, Rich Moore, a retail REIT analyst at RBC Capital Markets, predicted that another large shopping mall operator, or a combination of rival companies, would end up buying General Growth."