Macerich stock, which sank to a low of $5.80 in 2009, was trading as high as $62.29 this May and settled to $55.83 on Nov. 28.
In one of its first major recession-era divestments, in July 2009, Macerich sold 49 percent of its interest in Queens Center, a New York mall that at the time was the top performing property in the company’s portfolio. In the next couple of months, it went on to sell portions of its interest in three more large malls. The buyers were private-equity investors.
Richard Moore, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in Solon, Ohio, said the company sold shares of its best properties to partners to ease its debt burden.
“They had these loans coming due, but in 2008 and 2009, nobody was lending,” he said. “These guys had money, and they said ‘Great, we’ll buy. You can use the money to help you with your balance sheet issues.’ Now the balance sheet issues are gone.”
One of the company’s latest acquisitions – Broomfield, Colo., mall FlatIron Crossing – reverses a sale the company made in 2009 to Menlo Park investment firm GI Partners. Macerich bought back its 75 percent interest in the mall for $323 million, a $207 million premium on the 2009 sale price.
Macerich estimates the 1.5 million-square-foot mall generates sales of about $531 per net leasable square foot each year.
The other two acquisitions further the company’s efforts to establish a stronghold in the New York market.
King’s Plaza in Brooklyn and Green Acre’s Mall in Long Island community Valley Stream will be sold for $751 million and $500 million, respectively. King’s Plaza owner Alexander’s Inc. is a subsidiary of Green Acres owner Vornado Realty Trust.
Macerich was most interested in acquiring King’s Plaza, a 1.2 million-square-foot mall that does about $650 per net leasable square foot in sales each year and is comparable to high-end malls such as South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.
Green Acres is a 1.8 million-square-foot mall in Valley Stream on Long Island that does about $520 a square foot a year.
Moore at RBC Capital Markets said both New York malls are a boon to the company’s portfolio.
“It’s hard to find good malls to buy, because there are only a handful out there and few ever come up for sale,” he said. “When you can get something of this caliber in a market like New York, that’s pretty important.”
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