A major mall owner with more than 100 locations across the United States has filed for bankruptcy after being unable to pay his rent.
The Washington Prime Group has been forced to close properties and ease rent collection from its tenants during the pandemic, slashing the mall owner’s finances.
Washington Prime’s estimated assets ranged from $ 1 billion to $ 10 billion, as did its estimated liabilities, in a case filed Sunday in U.S. bankruptcy court for the Southern District of Texas.
“The bankruptcy shows that while things are now back to normal, many of the scars left by the pandemic have not completely healed,” Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director of GlobalData, told CNN Business.
The Anderson Mall, which reopened, is in Anderson, South Carolina on Friday. The Anderson Mall is part of the Washington Prime Group which has over 100 locations across the United States
“Strong balance sheets and healthy operations are necessary for real estate companies to get through this period,” he added. “Washington Prime did not have these fundamentals and therefore chose Chapter 11 as a way to restructure and repay its debts. ”
The Columbus, Ohio-based company, formed in 2014 following a spin-off from shopping center giant Simon Property Group Inc, was in talks for around $ 100 million in debtor-in-possession financing to help operations during bankruptcy proceedings.
During the throes of the pandemic in 2020, Washington Prime’s rental income fell about $ 127 million from 2019 levels due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In the first three months of this year, Washington Prime’s rental income has declined by approximately $ 20 million compared to the same period in 2020.
Its operating cash flow for the three months ending March was $ 3.3 million, down from $ 10 million for the same period in 2020.
“The financial restructuring of the company will allow Washington Prime to adjust its balance sheet and position the company for success going forward,” said CEO Lou Conforti.
Shoppers wearing face masks walk through the reopened Anderson Mall in Anderson, South Carolina on Friday, April 24
“During the financial restructuring, we will continue to work to maximize the value of our assets and our operating infrastructure.
The US economy is now rebounding strongly with more than 140 million Americans fully vaccinated and businesses reopening.
Nonetheless, previous government stay-at-home orders and business closures designed to slow the pandemic crushed the bottom line for many retailers, jeopardizing their ability to pay rent to landlords like Washington Prime.
Other mall owners such as CBL and Associates Properties Inc and Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust filed for bankruptcy last year.