Meruelo Maddux Battles Financial Woes

Ahead of releasing its first quarter 2008 financial results after the market closes tomorrow, Downtown Los Angeles landlord Meruelo Maddux Properties Inc. has been taking steps to battle debt woes and a depressed stock price.Since the company’s IPO in early 2007, its stock price has lost about 80 percent of its initial value, though it did see an uptick to above $2 a share in trading this morning.In a filing with regulators early this month, the company said that it plans to sell as much as $300 million worth of stock, debt securities and warrants in one or more separate offerings. A few days later, Meruelo Maddux picked Andrew Murray as its new CFO. Murray most recently was a senior vice president at FBR Capital Markets, where he headed the company’s West Coast real estate investment banking activities, and is known for his familiarity with the Downtown Los Angeles market.According to Bloomberg, the company has about $200 million in mortgage debt coming due in the next 12 months, an uncertain prospect considering the state of the credit markets. The drop in stock price has, however, interested investors in Meruelo Maddux, because of the company’s 80-acre portfolio that includes about 50 properties, such as the Little Tokyo Shopping Center, as well as warehouses and other buildings in Downtown Los Angeles and other markets.The company is also putting a number of development projects on hold, noted Bloomberg, and selling other assets, such as a 119,000-square-foot distribution center occupied by FedEx Corp.