INDIANAPOLIS-Simon Property Group Inc. is looking into bidding for all or part of Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc. A large portion GGP’s portfolio is operating under Chapter 11, after the company filed for bankruptcy protection on 166 regional shopping malls in April. Only 50 GGP properties were left out of the filing.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal Simon has hired investment adviser Lazard Ltd. and law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to assist with the potential bid. GGP is readying to emerge from bankruptcy, potentially as soon as February, with a reorganized company.

As part of that process GGP is nearing a $11.5 billion deal with lenders to restructure securitized mortgages, which could close as soon as this week. The deal includes due-date extensions for the next three to nine years.

Simon has not confirmed publicly a pending bid for GGP, but as the Wall Street Journal article reports, the company has managed to raise $4 billion this year through the sale of stocks and bonds. For the third quarter, Simon saw funds from operations increase 2% to $473.1 million, $1.38 per diluted share. Despite the economy, this figure is up from 2008′s FFO which was $463.9 million, $1.61 per diluted share.

For GGP, FFO per fully diluted share was $0.31 during Q3, while earnings per diluted share saw a loss of $0.38.

GGP currently owns or manages more than 200 shopping malls in 44 states. Simon owns or operates 387 properties throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

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