New General Growth CEO shuffling executives

By Dow Jones Newswires-Wall Street Journal
Posted Jan. 5 at 1:57 p.m.

General Growth Properties Inc.’s incoming chief executive is beginning to shuffle the mall owner’s executive ranks in advance of his arrival.

Sandeep Mathrani, the Vornado Realty Trust veteran who officially will join General Growth as CEO on Jan. 17, disclosed in an email sent to General Growth employees late Tuesday that long-time executives Robert Michaels and Ron Gern will leave the mall owner.

Michaels, currently General Growth’s vice chairman, has spent 38 years at the company, serving as chief operating officer from 1995 to 2008. Gern, General Growth’s general counsel, has worked for the company for 13 years.

“As you all know, both were instrumental in GGP’s restructuring and ensuring our reputation with retailers remained intact and even improved” as GGP navigated bankruptcy court from April 2009 to November 2010, Mathrani wrote in an email to employees. “Their invaluable contributions pre-date the bankruptcy.”

A General Growth representative declined to comment. Michaels and Gern didn’t return messages seeking comment.

General Growth, which owns 185 U.S. malls, sought bankruptcy protection in 2009 after failing to refinance portions of its $27 billion debt load as they came due. The company exited bankruptcy last November with a $7 billion recapitalization led by Brookfield Asset Management Inc., paring the mall owner’s debt to $20 billion.

General Growth hired Mathrani to replace departing directors-turned-top-executives Adam Metz and Thomas Nolan. The company hasn’t yet announced any hires by Mathrani.

In July, Brookfield installed Steven J. Douglas, a Brookfield veteran, as General Growth’s chief financial officer.

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