A General Growth spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that he is familiarwith the e-mail and would not confirm or deny its validity. Thecompany, with about 4,700 employees, does not comment on personnelmatters, he says.

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The e-mail stresses that the cuts are not a result of "changesin the economy" or based on performance. "This is simply the nextstep in the evolution of a more effective organization," itsays.

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Changes in how mall owners market their properties have been inthe works for years, says Alberta Davidson, a San Diego-basedconsultant who spent 25 years in marketing with former mall ownerHahn Co. Many firms have considered taking marketingresponsibilities away from individual mall employees andconsolidating them into corporate-office positions.

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"As far as I know this is an unusual approach," she says. "Idon't know of any other company that has done it to this large of adegree." Additionally, General Growth was honored last year withfour MAXI Gold Awards by the International Council of ShoppingCenters for marketing excellence at individual malls it either ownsor manages.

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General Growth is currently facing tough financial times. Itsstock, which closed yesterday at $33.60, is well below its 52-weekhigh of $67.43. The company has about $5.6 billion in debt maturingthis year and next that has yet to be refinanced in a troubledcredit market, though executives say that they are optimisticpotential financing sources. Management also expects to take Q4write downs on some of its residential land holdings.

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General Growth operates about 200 malls across the country andhas holdings in Brazil and Turkey. The company is scheduled thisweek to open the Shoppes at the Palazzo, a 440,000-sf luxury-retailproject in the Palazzo resort, adjacent to the Venetian in LasVegas.

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