General Growth to sell malls, raise rents, CEO says

By Reuters
Posted March 1 at 1:34 p.m.

The new chief executive of General Growth Properties Inc. said the company plans to sell some malls, cut debt and expenses and raise occupancy rates and some rents to boost income and put its bankruptcy behind it.

Sandeep Mathrani, who has been the CEO of the No. 2 U.S. mall owner for about 40 days, said Tuesday that he expects to reduce the number of malls the company owns to 150 from 169. It plans to sell the 19 other malls, which contribute a minimal amount to its income. The company had more than 200 malls before it filed for bankruptcy in April 2009.

General Growth, which has started selling its non-mall properties, held its first conference call with analysts on Tuesday since it emerged from bankruptcy in November. The call marked the debut of its new CEO as well as that of Chief Financial Officer Steve Douglas.

The two mapped out near- and mid-term plans to get General Growth back in shape to compete with other large mall owners, such as Simon Property Group Inc., Taubman Centers Inc. and Macerich Co.

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