Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Brookfield Top Candidate to Buy out Ackman's Stake in U.S. Mall Owner: Expert

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Brookfield Top Candidate to Buy out Ackman's Stake in U.S. Mall Owner: Expert

Article excerpt

Ackman could be stirring the GGP pot: expert

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U.S. activist investor Bill Ackman could end up selling his stake in General Growth Properties to Toronto's Brookfield Asset Management Inc., the largest shareholder of the American mall owner that's at the centre of a dispute between the two investors, a retail expert said Friday.

Ackman could be "stirring up the pot" with his letter asking General Growth's board to form a special committee -- independent of Brookfield directors -- to look at selling the company, said Howard Davidowitz of Davidowitz & Associates, Inc. in New York.

Ackman's request could lead to an offer to buy out Pershing's 10.2 per cent stake in Chicago-based General Growth and the top candidate is Brookfield, Davidowitz said.

"Brookfield, they're perfect to buy him out," said Davidowitz, chairman of the New York retail consulting and investment banking firm.

"They're the No. 1 candidate," he said of Brookfield, which owns 42.2 per cent of General Growth.

Ackman couldn't be reached for comment on Friday.

In the letter filed Thursday, Ackman's Pershing Square Capital alleges that Brookfield (TSX:BAM.A) rebuffed a takeover offer from Simon Property Group last year that came with a 65 per cent premium in favour of taking over the company itself -- though no offer has been forthcoming.

Brookfield, which manages a range of utility, infrastructure and real estate assets, refutes those allegations, saying it has no intentions to either buy GGP, nor sell its existing stake. It has said it's not taking any steps to acquire GGP nor is it having any discussions with third parties in that regard.

Pershing's letter says Brookfield is not acting in other shareholders' best interests in its attempts to acquire GGP and in its refusal to consider other offers for the company.

"The letter may lead to other things. To get the highest price if you're Bill Ackman, you want more than one bid for your stake. He may see value in stirring up the pot," Davidowitz said.

Ackman also said in the letter that Pershing Square was in discussions last year with Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the U. …

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