Brookfield Property Partners LP bid about $14.8 billion to acquire the stake it doesn’t already hold in U.S. mall owner GGP Inc. as the companies seek to repurpose struggling physical shopping centers.
The firm offered $23 a share for the 66 percent of GGP it doesn’t own, Brookfield said in a statement on Monday. That represents a premium of about 21 percent to Chicago-based GGP’s closing price on Nov. 6, the day before Bloomberg News reported Brookfield had held discussions about taking the company private. GGP said in a separate statement that its board has formed a special committee to review the proposal.
Brookfield Property Partners is the real estate unit of Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc. Brookfield Asset has been focusing on buying and revamping shopping centers to take advantage of the land they occupy in urban areas, Chief Executive Officer Bruce Flatt said on a conference call last week. GGP last month reached an agreement with AvalonBay Communities Inc. to build apartments at a shopping center in Seattle, and CEO Sandeep Mathrani said the company “will look to explore similar projects at other locations.”
GGP owns Bellis Fair in Bellingham.
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In the third quarter, Brookfield Property exercised all of its outstanding warrants in GGP, bringing its ownership stake to 34 percent from 29 percent, the company said in a statement earlier this month. The 68 million shares were purchased for $462 million.
“Although there could be other bidders, we do believe Brookfield is the logical buyer for GGP given its ownership stake,” Stifel analysts Simon Yarmak, Jennifer Hummert and Alexander Fraser said in a research note before Monday’s announcement.
Brookfield, which invests across real estate, infrastructure, renewable energy and private equity, said in November that assets under management increased to more than $265 billion. The company took a stake in GGP as part of an agreement to take the company out of bankruptcy in 2010. It acquired additional GGP warrants in January 2013 and agreed to not increase its stake beyond 45 percent for the next four years.
Shares of mall companies have been hit hard as the rise of e-commerce squeezes traditional retailers. Store closures are accelerating, pressuring landlords to fill empty space and reinvent shopping centers. Simon Property Group, the biggest U.S. mall owner, has fallen 7.8 percent this year through Friday. Even after getting a boost from reports of Brookfield’s interest, GGP shares are down 11 percent since the beginning of the year.