Brookfield Asset Management surprised investors when they made an unsolicited offer to buy a majority stake in Rouse Properties. Brookfield currently owns 33% of Rouse Properties, and the offer boosted its stock price by 30%. During a week when the equity markets have seen a number of selloffs, this offer is seen as being opportunistic, and its bringing attention to the mall industry which has been seen as a risky and dying industry since the great recession.
Many experts predicted the downfall of malls when GGP, the second largest owner of malls in the US, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April of 2009. GGP was founded as a small grocery business in Iowa and developed one of the firsts malls in the Midwest in the 1950’s. By 1989, GGP became the second largest owner of malls largely due to the availability of land tracts where big box stores could be developed. This allowed suburban middle class families to shop closer to home and avoid having to go to stores downtown.
Brookfield came to the rescue and made a $2.3 billion investment in GGP’s common stock, resulting in almost 40% ownership of the shares. GGP continued to liquidate some of its assets until January 2012 when Rouse Properties was spun out of GGP as an independent company pursuing its own goals. GGP provided Rouse Properties with 30 Class B malls while GGP focused on its core properties, strengthening its operations and transitioning out of bankruptcy relief. Brookfield remained as a majority shareholder of Rouse Properties.
Malls may be classified as being Class A, B, or C, and these categories are based on the average sale per square feet. Class A malls have the highest rate of sales, and Class C have the lowest rate of sales. This has created a two tiered system of mall REITs with Class A REITs in one category and Classes B and C REITs in a second category. Class A mall REITs have been trading at 25x AFFO, and Class B/C mall REITs have been trading at 12x AFFO. Rouse Properties, which belongs in the Class B/C REITs, are now trading at 15x AFFO after Brookfield announced its offer to purchase a majority stake in the company.
Rouse Properties has asked Brookfield to sign a standstill agreement while they form a special committee to evaluate the proposal. In the meantime, Rouse has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to act as an independent financial adviser.
Source: Rouse Properties, Inc.(NYSE:RSE), Brookfield Asset Management In(NYSE:BAM), Fast Graphs, Yahoo!Finance, General Growth Properties, Inc(NYSE:GGP)
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