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General Growth Interested in Vornado Malls, Mathrani Says

May 2 (Bloomberg) -- General Growth Properties Inc. Chief Executive Officer Sandeep Mathrani said his company would be interested in buying Vornado Realty Trust’s best shopping malls should they be put up for sale.

“I like the malls, and I’m sure if they come to market we’d hope to be able to participate in attempting to buy the ‘A’ malls,” Mathrani said today in response to a question about Vornado’s plans on General Growth’s quarterly conference call with analysts.

Vornado plans to “reduce our exposure to the enclosed-mall business,” Steven Roth, the company’s chairman, said in his annual letter to investors on April 13. Before becoming CEO of Chicago-based General Growth last year, Mathrani was president of New York-based Vornado’s retail division.

Investor demand for malls is rising as landlords boost rents and occupancies amid increasing consumer spending. Vornado, in its latest annual report, listed seven properties in its regional-mall portfolio. The retail centers are in New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Puerto Rico, and include Springfield Mall in Springfield, Virginia, a 1.4 million-square-foot (130,000-square-meter) property that the company plans to continue renovating, Roth said in the letter.

General Growth, the biggest U.S. shopping-mall owner after Simon Property Group Inc., said yesterday that funds from operations excluding some items rose in the first quarter as tenant sales increased.

General Growth rose 2.3 percent to $18.34 today in New York. The shares have gained 13 percent in the past year. Vornado climbed 0.1 percent to $87.60 today and has lost 9.5 percent in the past 12 months.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Louis in Chicago at blouis1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

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