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CHICAGO-General Growth Properties, Inc. has increased its fourth-quarter dividend by 11% to $0.72 per share. Based on a $50.18 share price Tuesday afternoon, the new pay-out results in a 5.74% yield for the retail REIT’s stock.

“In this low interest rate environment, more investors are looking for current yield in addition to capital appreciation,” says General Growth Properties chief executive officer John Bucksbaum in a statement. “Compound growth in funds from operations has averaged over 15% during the last nine years, so double-digit dividend growth is warranted. While providing our shareholders a substantial dividend increase, we currently expect the ratio of our dividends paid to funds from operations in 2003 to remain under 50%.”

Bucksbaum adds General Growth, which last week paid $72 million for Pecanland Mall in Monroe, LA, and recently joined with the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System to spend $634 million on four malls, expects to generate $250 million next year for additional buys and working capital.

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