In the world of retail real estate, few executives are watched as closely as Sandeep Mathrani, the chief executive officer of Chicago-based General Growth Properties (NYSE: GGP), which emerged from a 19-month bankruptcy restructuring in November. Mathrani took on the leadership role in October, as GGP struggled to regain its footing.

The real estate investment trust (REIT), the nation's second-largest owner and operator of shopping malls, survived one of the largest bankruptcy cases in U.S. corporate history. It has ownership and management interests in more than 180 regional and super regional shopping malls in 43 states, and its portfolio encompasses nearly 200 million sq. ft. of retail space.

In the reorganization, GGP split into two corporations. Master-planned communities and development were spun off to The Howard Hughes Corp.

In December 2010, GGP declared a common stock dividend of $0.38 per share. And in late February, GGP amended its $300 million, senior secured revolving credit facility, raising the commitment to approximately $720 million, and providing for an extension to $1 billion to allow additional liquidity.

“The credit facility amendment gives us continued financial flexibility and allows us to successfully carry out our growth strategy,” said Mathrani.

The availability of credit is a good sign, he notes. “It's a testament that confidence is increasing, not only in GGP, but also in the industry. We are committed to reinvesting in our properties.”

Before taking on his role at GGP, Mathrani was president of retail for Vornado Realty Trust, which has a capitalization of more than $31 billion. Mathrani directed Vornado's retail real estate operations in the U.S. and India. Earlier, he was executive vice president at Forest City Ratner, where he spent eight years, and oversaw retail development and leasing for New York City.

Mathrani holds master's degrees in engineering and management science, along with a bachelor of engineering degree, from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J.

Today, he oversees an enterprise founded in 1954 by two brothers, Matthew and Martin Bucksbaum, whose first retail property was Town and Country Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.