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NAREIT REIT Week Live Blog: General Growth Properties

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Sandeep Mathrani, CEO, and Steve Douglas, vice president & CFO are presenting for General Growth Properties at NAREIT's REIT Week.

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Below are notes from the session.

2:17: Mathrani: We've been very active. There have been refinancing—over $2.5 billion this year alone. We said we would do $4 billion to $5 billion. We'll get there… We're on contract to sell $800 million in assets. We should achieve $1 billion. … No one can fault us for not being active.

2:20: Mathrani: We've just returned from ICSC in Vegas. … I've been going to those things since 1989 and it was probably my best ICSC ever. … The pleasure was to see my own people very active on the deal side. Even more pleasurable was that the retailers wanted to make deals. … The other thing that was impressive to me was the types of tenants making deals were everything from the Armanis, and YSLs and Tiffany's to the Children's Places. It was not just the A malls, but the B malls as well. The quality of tenants is spreading across all types of malls.

2:21: Mathrani: Our organization is complete. Our senior management team is fully staffed now. The reorganization is done. We are a strong, operating company.

2:22: Douglas: We're continuing to see a robust large loan market. The depth of field on the 10-year market is encouraging. … We've also smoothed our maturity ladder by (balancing future maturities so they're not hitting at the same time).

2:25: Mathrani: We have 125 of the top 600 malls and 25 of the top 100 malls and 90 percent of our income is from that. Most of the income is from A and B+ malls. We're seeing across all—even B & C malls—sales inching upwards. Sales have almost reached peaked levels of 2007. Is this sustainable with unemployment at 9 percent? I think time will tell. … So far the sales across the portfolio have come back. We are lagging on occupancy at GGP and lagging at occupancy because our brethren were leasing with good balance sheets and giving tenant allowances (which GGP not do). … In 2011 we have healthy liquidity, so we are making up for lost time at a very rapid pace.

2:28: Mathrani: (In response to question about potential float of B malls.) Westfield has a bunch of assets in the market and they'll come to the market earlier than ours. So it will be indicative, if nothing else, of our portfolio. … I'm anxiously awaiting to see the results of the Westfield offer.

2:32: Mathrani: (How much redevelopment or intensification is GGP looking at?) I'm not a big believer of putting condominiums on top of shopping centers. … We're in the process today of figuring out how much we have. We have indicated several times and in meetings that we think it will be $1.5 billion in three-to-five year period.

2:33: Mathrani: The real question, are we increasing total occupancy? Is the total occupancy more permanent than short-term? The answer to that is, “Yes.” We think there will be a 150 basis point increase in occupancy. There may not be an increase in term just yet.

2:35: Mathrani: On the outlet business, I'm of the belief that if you were to do it on a development basis, it takes a long time to build a credible business. Will we venture into it, yes. … But it will not be the driving force of our growth. I'd be more likely to do it on a joint venture basis than to do it on my own.

2:37: Mathrani: (In response to a question about its recent swap with Macerich.) I'm a firm believer that we need to control our anchors. It gives us the most amount of flexibility. A competitor doesn't have as much incentive to manage or develop that in a way to benefit your asset. … Of the five Mervyn's boxes, two are vacant. … I needed to take one of them and redevelop the mall. And there was no way I could do that without owning that asset. … We can now demolish and reconfigure. … We're not only doing that with them, but if there are anchors across our portfolio owned by department stores, we're aggressively going to buy them.

2:43: Douglas: (In response to question about appropriate a level of unencumbered asset pool.) Philosophically we believe putting assets on a shelf for a rainy day costs equity. It leaves horsepower sitting there. … The sins of the past (cross collateralization, recourse to the parent, etc.) … ruin the benefits of having an asset-level strategy as opposed to a corporate-level strategy. … If we're doing our debt stack properly, I think inherently we will be in a 40 to 50 percent range. … You have amortization, cap rate compression and increases in inherent NOI. … Simply keeping an unencumbered pool is something we won't do.

2:45: Mathrani: All debt is not the same. If you put investment grade debt on an asset that is amortizing and you have a 10, 12 or 15 year maturity. Do you evaluate the LTV today or the LTV when it is due? … That qualitative analysis is something that … the industry doesn't do.

Session ends.

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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