Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg

Loeb’s Third Point Takes Stake in Mall-Owner Macerich

Updated on
  • N.Y. hedge fund is said to build almost 5% stake in mall owner
  • Loeb is pushing for change at company including possible sale

Dan Loeb’s Third Point disclosed a position in mall-owner Macerich Co., the real estate investment trust whose shares have come under pressure as traditional retailers battle online rivals.

The New York-based hedge fund owns almost 5 percent of the REIT and is expected to agitate for change at the company, which could include a potential sale, according to people familiar with the matter. It’s unclear whether there have been discussions between the activist investor and Macerich’s management or board, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. 

Third Point disclosed a new 1.3 percent position in Macerich in a regulatory filing Thursday after Bloomberg first reported the stake. The filing details holdings through Sept. 30. and Third Point has since increased its position, the people said.

Loeb also disclosed a new stake in payment processor Vantiv Inc., which agreed to buy Worldplay Group for roughly $10 billion in August. The transaction will go for a shareholder vote later this month.

Third Point also revealed positions in Shire Plc, Dover Corp. and Marathon Petroleum Corp., among others, according to the filing. It exited General Dynamics Corp., Humana Inc., Charter Communications Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprises Co., and EQT Corp.

Loeb also increased its stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. while decreasing its holdings in Alphabet Inc., the filing shows.

Macerich’s shares jumped as much as 12 percent in trading Thursday, after falling more than 16 percent this year prior to news of Third Point’s stake. They closed up 6.1 percent at $62.41 in New York, valuing the company at $8.8 billion.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is currently the biggest shareholder in the REIT with 16.5 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

Third Point’s move comes as Amazon.com Inc. and other web-based retailers turn up the heat on brick-and-mortar competitors. Suburban malls have been hit especially hard as consumers find other outlets for their shopping and entertainment dollars. Store closures are accelerating, pressuring landlords to fill empty space and reinvent shopping centers.

America’s ‘Retail Apocalypse’ Is Really Just Beginning

A representative for Macerich, based in Santa Monica, California, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Representatives for Third Point and Ontario Teachers declined to comment.

Last week, Macerich disclosed a new change of control clause that would grant the company’s top executives increased payouts if they were terminated within 24 months of an ownership switch.

Macerich Targeted

Macerich was previously targeted by an activist investors in 2015. Land & Buildings Investment Management and Orange Capital built a position in the company after it rejected a $16.8 billion takeover bid from Simon Property Group Inc. Shares of Simon Property rose as much as 4.1 percent Thursday.

The REIT took steps at the time to adopt a so-called poison pill and stagger its board after the bid, a move that was criticized by the activists. Macerich then backed off on adopting the protections against a takeover after the activist pressure and added two new independent board members.

Macerich, an owner of regional malls throughout the U.S., currently owns 54 million square feet of real estate, primarily interests in 48 regional shopping centers in New York, Chicago and Washington, as well as Arizona and the West Coast, according to its website.

— With assistance by Joshua Fineman

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