Simon says: "Shop!" And millions do. Simon Property Group is the largest shopping mall and retail center owner in the US, with a portfolio of some 340 retail properties totaling approximately 245 million sq. ft. of leasable space in more than 40 states and Puerto Rico. The self-managed, self-administered real estate investment trust (REIT) owns, develops, and manages regional shopping malls, outlet malls (under the Premium Outlet, Prime Outlet, and The Mills brands), boutique malls, and shopping centers. Its portfolio is concentrated in the Southeast, Midwest, and Northeast US. The REIT also has stakes in outlet centers in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Mexico.
Simon is focused on international expansion in select markets. Its strategy is to partner with established real estate companies in other countries. In 2012 the company bought a 29% stake in Paris-based property investor Klépierre, which owns some 270 retail properties in France, Belgium, Scandinavia, and elsewhere in Europe. Simon paid BNP Paribas approximately $2 billion for the stake, after which it became Klépierre's largest shareholder. Also in 2012 Simon signed international development agreements to develop up to a dozen outlet centers in Brazil and another outlet in China adjacent to the Shanghai Disney Resort.
While the company looks for new opportunities, it also knows when to exit deals, ideally at a profit. In 2012 Simon sold its 49% stake in Gallerie Commerciali Italia to joint venture partner Auchan for $378 million. The deal included interest in 45 properties in Italy.
In the US, Simon also is working to build its portfolio. Although a major offer for rival real estate firm General Growth Properties was rejected in 2010, Simon expanded its outlet mall holdings that year with the purchase of Prime Outlets for some $2.3 billion. The deal brought in more than 20 retail outlet centers in major metropolitan markets and tourist destinations, and upped Simon's outlet portfolio to more than 60 centers with some 25 million sq. ft. of retail space. Further expanding upon its outlet platform in 2012, Simon bought out joint venture partner Farallon Capital Management in order to acquire the 25 assets of The Mills for $1.5 billion. The deal included repayment of debt.
In addition to acquisitions, Simon also develops new retail properties and redevelops existing ones. The company's Premium Outlets platform is a major focus for ground-up development. Simon is working on three new Prime Outlet projects in New Hampshire, Texas, and Korea. Other projects are in the works in the US, Canada, and Japan.
The recovering economic environment, along with the impact of acquisitions and proceeds from divestitures, has helped Simon improve its earnings, as well as increase its occupancy rate and rents. In 2011 revenues increased by nearly 9%. Profit also has improved from the lows of the recession. Net income grew by more than 65% in 2011.
The founding Simon family, owners of the Indiana Pacers NBA franchise, owns more than 10% of the company. – less