Saturday, July 31, 2010

Simon Property Cuts Three Centers Out Of Prime Outlets Deal

Simon Property Group Inc. has scaled back its $700 million acquisition of Prime Outlets Inc. by three properties as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission continues to review the deal for antitrust issues.

“There has been a modification to the transaction,” Chief Executive David Simon said during a conference call with investors and analysts Friday. He declined to provide specifics as to why Prime Outlets was maintaining interests in the three properties or how the financials of the deal have changed because of the reduced amount of centers.

The three properties that now will remain with Prime owner Lightstone Group LLC rather than being included in the Simon deal are Prime Outlets in St. Augustine, Fla., and two development sites for outlet centers in Grand Prairie, Texas, and Livermore Valley, Calif.

“Our acquisition of Prime…is still being reviewed by the FTC and we are fully cooperating in that review,” Simon reiterated.

Simon Property announced the acquisition of Prime Outlets in December. Simon Property is already the country’s largest owner of retail properties by number, with 323 malls and other shopping centers. Adding Prime’s 22 centers would cement Simon’s dominance of the resilient outlet-center market, giving it a total of 63 outlet properties. That’s twice as many as No. 2 outlet-center operator Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. (SKT).

Controlling so many properties promises to give Simon an enormous advantage when negotiating leases with retailers. The company would have the clout to do multiple deals, potentially insisting that retailers take space in poorly performing locations as a condition of getting prime real estate in the most popular centers.

“U.S. antitrust authorities have consistently recognized that the retail industry is highly competitive and fragmented,” Simon said.

SOURCE: Gubmint Cheese

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