NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. — The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware has accepted shopping center owner and manager Kimco Realty Corp.’s joint venture bid with Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. and Columbus, Ohio-based Schottenstein Group to acquire all asset designation rights for bankrupt retailer Montgomery Ward LLC, and its affiliates at a price that may exceed $435 million.

Designation rights include 315 properties, of which 250 are former Montgomery Ward retail locations. The venture gained designation rights immediately through Feb. 26, 2002 for the leases and Dec. 31, 2004 for the Ward-owned locations. The venture is responsible for all costs associated with operating the former Wards properties until selling them to a new user.

The venture has agreed to purchase rights for an initial price of $60.5 million that may ultimately exceed $435 million under the terms of the deal. The rights enable the venture to direct the ultimate disposition of the properties held by the bankrupt estate.

Simon's motivation for getting involved in the deal was a desire to control the fate of former Wards locations at its 30 centers, according to Simon spokeswoman Billie Scott.