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Taubman Close to Deal to Develop First Chinese Mall Property

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May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Taubman Centers Inc., the U.S. luxury-mall owner, is close to announcing its first retail investment in China, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Taubman said.

“The growth of retail, the growth of the consumer, is really on steroids in China,” he said today in an interview at the International Council of Shopping Centers real estate conference in Las Vegas. “We’re getting close to an announcement.”

The company plans to develop retail properties in China as more people move from rural areas to cities and have more disposable income. Its Asia unit bought a 90 percent stake in retail real estate consulting company TCBL Consulting Ltd. for $23.7 million in December, according to a regulatory filing by Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based Taubman Centers.

The CEO declined to name the city it’s considering for the mall project. It’s a large “second-tier” city in central China, he said.

“Our focus of our efforts is in China and also in Korea,” Taubman said. “The vast majority of work we do is going to be in China.”

The company also plans to start construction this year on a 640,000-square-foot (59,000-square-meter) mall in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and a 900,000-square-foot center in Sarasota, Florida. Both projects will have luxury retailer Saks Inc. as an anchor tenant, according to a regulatory filing.

Taubman rose 1.5 percent to $73.90 at 3:07 p.m. in New York trading.

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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