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Owner of Galleria mall declares bankruptcy

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By KWMU/Illinois Public Radio

Chicago, IL – The owner of the Galleria Mall in St. Louis has filed for bankruptcy.

General Growth Properties is assuring customers that its more than 200 malls in 44 states will operate normally while it works through its financial problems. Five of those shopping centers are in Missouri - including the Galleria -- and seven are in Illinois.

Tom Nolan, president and chief operating officer of the company, says the bankruptcy filing will not affect day to day business at General Growth's malls.

"We're convinced that we're going to make this bankruptcy filing invisible to the shoppers in our malls, and that's whether that's ones we own or whether that's ones we manage. That's our approach. We're open for business today and we're going to be open for business tomorrow."

General Growth has total assets valued at more than 29-billion-dollars. But its liabilities top 26-billion.

Joel Bloomer, a real estate business analyst with Morningstar, says General Growth will most likely operate under tight lender control during the bankruptcy.

"My guess is that they're hoping they can do this for a period of time, maybe a few years, until the economic picture improves where they can either look into selling some properties piecemeal or maybe the company gets back to a situation where it can actually cover its debt service," Bloomer said.

In a phone conference with reporters, Nolan said the company would consider selling its more strategic assets if the price were right.

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