GGP Outlines Debt Refi Plan

In the wake of market-spanning questions of the viability of debt loads held by major real estate ownership entities–with Centro as a poster child for owners struggling with the problem–Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc. has unveiled a “capital roadmap” for the new year and 2009 as well. The document was filed as an 8-K with the SEC, which is used to “announce major events that shareholders should know about,” according to the agency.”Refinancing properties every five years or so is a normal part of our business,” Timothy Goebel, GGP’s director of investor relations, told CPN this afternoon. “CMBS lending has dried up, but there are still plenty of other lenders interested in good-quality malls.” According to the REIT, it has $2.621 billion of portfolio debt maturing in 2008 and $3.344 billion of portfolio debt maturing in 2009. Of those totals, $359 million, or about 6 percent of 2008-2009 maturing debt, has already been refinanced.The debt maturing in 2008 includes $1.816 billion of mortgage and other secured debt, representing about 37.3 percent of the financing value of the properties. Other 2008 debt includes $722 million of remaining bridge acquisition debt and $83 million of notes. The 2009-maturing debt includes $2.744 billion of mortgage and other secured debt representing about 49.6 percent of the financing value of the properties, plus $600 million of notes.GGP’s “capital roadmap” includes expected loan amounts equal to about 50 percent to 60 percent of property value for financing purposes, cap rates below 7.5 percent, and interest rates of about 5.75 percent. Though agreements to refinance debt maturing in 2008 and 2009 haven’t been reached, the company asserted in its statement that it would be able to generate significant excess proceeds from the refinancing of the $4.56 billion of maturing mortgage debt. In a research note released on Wednesday, Goldman Sachs analyst Jonathan Haberman expressed the belief that GGP could indeed refinance its debt in the coming years. He rates the stock a “buy.”Lately, however, investors have been selling GGP stock, influenced perhaps by the broader spectre of a retail downturn as the U.S. economy slows. In the first week of 2008, shares in the company dropped $8.13 (as of this afternoon) to about $33 per share, a nearly 20 percent decline. The company’s share-price peak of 2007 came in March, with GGP trading at $67 per share.