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High-End Mall REITs Take a Hit From Forever 21 Bankruptcy – The Motley Fool

Store closures and retailer bankruptcies have become a huge drag on mall REITs' financial results in recent years. Owners of low- and mid-tier malls have been hit hardest. Falling traffic to those properties caused two department store chains, Bon-Ton and Sears Holdings, to file for bankruptcy last year. In 2019 alone, numerous chains that were once ubiquitous at mid-tier malls -- such as Gymboree, Crazy 8, Payless ShoeSource, and Things Remembered -- have closed their doors for good.

However, one of the more recent retail bankruptcies is impacting a different slice of the REIT world. Fast-fashion giant Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy a little over a month ago and announced plans to close up to 178 stores in the U.S. Its restructuring is disproportionately hurting high-end mall REITs, as seen in recent earnings reports from Taubman Centers (NYSE:TCO) and Macerich (NYSE:MAC).

Taubman Centers owns some of the best malls in the U.S. It recently reported that sales per square foot for comparable centers in the U.S. reached $964 for the 12-month period ending on Sept. 30, up nearly 14% from $848 during the prior 12-month period. Yet Taubman has struggled to translate this portfolio of superior malls into strong growth in funds from operations (FFO) per share, due to a combination of poor execution and questionable investment decisions.

Taubman's third-quarter earnings report revealed more of the same. Adjusted FFO per share plunged to $0.86 from $1.01 a year earlier. Higher interest expense, lower land sale gains, and a decline in lease termination revenue all contributed to the FFO decrease. Management also said that the Forever 21 bankruptcy reduced FFO per share by $0.03.

Excluding lease cancellation revenue, net operating income (NOI) from comparable centers fell 1.5% year over year, driven entirely by the Forever 21 bankruptcy and exchange rate fluctuations. Taubman now expects full-year comparable-center NOI to increase just 0% to 1%, compared to its previous guidance for 2% growth. Looking ahead to 2020, the Forever 21 bankruptcy will reduce comparable NOI by 1% to 1.5% and will hurt FFO per share by $0.08 to $0.10.

Taubman Centers cut its full-year guidance for comparable center NOI growth last week. Image source: Taubman Centers.

Management noted that only one or two of the Forever 21 stores in Taubman's portfolio are likely to close, whereas Forever 21 had initially planned to close a dozen stores at the REIT's malls. However, Taubman Centers had to offer substantial rent reductions to avoid immediate store closures. In the years ahead, it will look to replace some of those stores with new tenants paying market rents.

Macerich also owns a collection of extremely strong malls, with portfolio sales per square foot of $800 over the past 12 months, up from $707 in the year-earlier period. It has done a little better on the execution front than Taubman in recent years, but has faced many of the same challenges.

Last quarter, Macerich's adjusted FFO per share fell to $0.88 from $0.99 in the prior-year period. Excluding lease termination revenue, same-center NOI ticked up 0.2% year over year. For both of these metrics, Macerich performed slightly better than Taubman Centers in the third quarter. Nearly all of the FFO decline was driven by higher interest expense, lower land sale gains, a decrease in lease termination revenue, and an accounting change.

Macerich management said that on an annualized basis, the Forever 21 bankruptcy will reduce FFO per share by $0.08, including a roughly $0.01 hit in each of the third and fourth quarters of 2019. The annualized impact on comparable NOI will be approximately 1.3 percentage points. Like Taubman Centers, Macerich expects only a few of its Forever 21 stores to close -- and most of that space has already been released. Most of the impact of the bankruptcy will be felt in the form of rent concessions.

In the long run, Taubman Centers and Macerich should have no trouble replacing most of their Forever 21 stores with new tenants paying higher rents, due to the high quality of their properties. The Forever 21 bankruptcy will remain a significant headwind in the first half of 2020, but the impact will recede quickly thereafter. That said, Macerich is likely to see a quicker recovery in NOI and FFO than Taubman Centers.

First, Macerich has reported higher growth in average base rent and stronger releasing spreads than its rival over the past year. Second, Macerich owns 50% of Fashion District Philadelphia, a completely redeveloped city-center mall that recently opened in Philadelphia. As that property moves toward full occupancy during 2020, it should begin to make a meaningful contribution to NOI and FFO. Third, Macerich has a promising redevelopment pipeline. It is nearing completion of a major expansion of Scottsdale Fashion Square -- one of its premier malls -- and has more than half a dozen projects in the works for the next few years to replace closed Sears stores.

Thus, Macerich has a good chance to return to strong FFO growth as soon as the second half of next year. By contrast, based on its anemic rent spreads, it may take Taubman Centers longer to turn things around. Both REITs are likely to perform well in the long run, but Macerich looks like a better investment opportunity today.

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High-End Mall REITs Take a Hit From Forever 21 Bankruptcy - The Motley Fool

Pro Bankruptcy Briefing: Barneys Begins Liquidation Sales | Puerto Rico Fees Top $500 Million | PG&E Threatened With Takeover – Wall Street Journal

Good day.Barneys New York Inc.began liquidation sales Friday at all of its stores.Puerto Ricos bankruptcy fees have topped the half-a-billion-dollar mark. And Californias governor is threateningPG&E Corp.with a state takeover.

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Pro Bankruptcy Briefing: Barneys Begins Liquidation Sales | Puerto Rico Fees Top $500 Million | PG&E Threatened With Takeover - Wall Street Journal

Murray Energy Is 8th Coal Company in a Year to Seek Bankruptcy – The New York Times

Murray Energy, once a symbol of American mining prowess, has become the eighth coal company in a year to file for bankruptcy protection. The move on Tuesday is the latest sign that market forces are throttling the Trump administrations bid to save the industry.

The collapse of the Ohio-based company had long been expected as coal-fired power plants close across the country.

Its chief executive, Robert E. Murray, has been an outspoken supporter and adviser of President Trump. He had lobbied extensively for Washington to support coal-fired power plants.

Mr. Murray gave up his position as chief executive and was replaced on Tuesday by Robert Moore, the former chief financial officer. Mr. Murray, who will remain chairman, expressed optimism that the company would survive with a lighter debt load.

Although a bankruptcy filing is not an easy decision, it became necessary to access liquidity, he said in a statement, and best position Murray Energy and its affiliates for the future of our employees and customers and our long-term success.

Murray, the nations largest privately held coal company, has nearly 7,000 employees and operates 17 mines in six states across Appalachia and the South as well as two mines in Colombia. It produces more than 70 million tons of coal annually.

But with utilities quickly switching to cheap natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar power, Murray and other coal companies have been shutting down mines and laying off workers. Murrays bankruptcy follows those of industry stalwarts like Cloud Peak Energy, Cambrian Coal and Blackjewel.

Murray was most closely identified with Trump administration promises to reverse the industrys fortunes.

Mr. Murray contributed $300,000 to Mr. Trumps inauguration. Shortly after, he wrote Mr. Trump a confidential memo with his wish list for the industry, including shaving regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and ozone and mine safety, along with cutting the staff at the Environmental Protection Agency by at least 50 percent. Several of the suggestions were adopted.

In July, Mr. Murray hosted a fund-raiser for Mr. Trump attended by the Republican governors of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

With Mr. Murray applauding his efforts, President Trump installed former coal lobbyists in regulatory positions and slashed environmental rules. But utilities continued to shut down coal plants that could not compete with a glut of natural gas produced in the nations shale fields. More recently, the improved economics of wind and solar energy production hastened coals decline.

Once the source of over 40 percent of the countrys power, coal produced 28 percent in 2018. That share has declined to just 25 percent this year, and the Energy Department projects that it will drop to 22 percent next year.

The only bright spot for Murray and other coal companies in recent years has been growing demand from Europe, Latin America and Asia, but exports have dropped by nearly 30 percent in the third quarter compared with last year. All told, domestic coal production is expected to decline by 10 percent this year from 2018 and by an additional 11 percent in 2020, the Energy Department said recently.

Environmentalists cheered the bankruptcy.

Bob Murray and his company are the latest examples of how market forces have sealed the fate of coal and theres nothing the president can do about it, said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group.

Murray entered into a restructuring agreement with some of its lenders and said it had received $350 million in loans to keep operating its mines.

Many coal companies have gone through bankruptcy in recent years only to re-emerge smaller, with reduced debts and eroded pension and health care benefits. Murray had been the last coal company contributing to the pension fund of the United Mine Workers of America.

In a statement, the United Mine Workers president, Cecil E. Roberts, warned that Murray will seek to be relieved of its obligations to retirees, their dependents and widows, adding, We have seen this sad act too many times before.

He promised to fight for the interests of workers in bankruptcy court.

While coal is in sharp decline in the United States, it remains a major power source in developing countries like India and China.

For coal to grow again in the United States and other industrialized countries, energy experts and even some coal executives say a concerted effort will be needed to develop technologies to capture carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. So far, the Trump administration has stopped short of pushing such an initiative.

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Murray Energy Is 8th Coal Company in a Year to Seek Bankruptcy - The New York Times

Roots Of An Oregon Farm Bankruptcy: When Tariffs, Mother Nature And Geopolitics Collide – OPB News

The federal bankruptcy court in Portland was almost empty when apple farmer Richard Blaine walked in. It was mid-October and harvest was in full swing on his orchards in Oregon and Washington. As workers plucked Granny Smiths and Golden Delicious from his trees, Blaine shifted in his seat and absorbed the bankruptcy hearing playing out aroundhim.

Richard Blaine friends call him Rick and his wife, Sydney Blaine, have run Avalon Orchards since 1974, growing apples, pears and cherries. He said the last five years have been a perfectstorm.

Its partly thanks to President Donald Trump that the Blaines have access to a kind of streamlined bankruptcy protection thats meant to help family farmers reorganize and keep farming. But its partly thanks to the presidents trade wars that they needit.

The Blaines have been married for 52 years. He was a schoolteacher when they bought her grandfathers farm in the Upper Hood River Valley. They learned by doing and over the years they expanded Avalon Orchards to five farms in Oregon andWashington.

Sydney, left, and Richard Blaine at Avalon Orchards in Sundale, Wash., Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. The Blaines have run Avalon since 1974. They hope to reorganize and continue farming after filing for Chapter 12 bankruptcy protections due to a variety of financial challenges, includingtariffs.

KateDavidson/OPB

Rick Blaine said now, at age 72, he can drive by an orchard at 50 mph and tell if its well tended. He and his wife are hands-onfarmers.

Mother Nature does almost all of it. But once in a while, if you bend a limb here or bend a limb there, and you do it often enough, the tree will produce lovely fruit, hesaid.

I love the harvest, Sydney Blaine said. Im outdoors all day long and especially when the weather is gorgeous, its just a beautiful outdoorlife.

Their daughter Heather Blaine is Avalon Orchards general manager. She said watching her parents go through this perfect storm, culminating in Avalons bankruptcy, has made this the hardest year of herlife.

I cannot even tell you how many tears have come out of my eyes, Heather Blaine said. And I wake up in the morning with stomach aches wondering how they are going to end their adventure in this livelihood weve had since1974.

When experienced farmers like the Blaines file for bankruptcy, its seldom because one thing went wrong. Its usually because theyve weathered a series of blows, which now include tariffs. In fact, the Blaines account of their perfect storm shows just how tied Northwest apples are to the whims ofgeopolitics.

They say it all started in 2014, with an event thousands of miles away that changed the global flow ofapples.

Binsof apples sit in the sun at Avalon Orchards in Sundale, Wash., Monday, Oct. 7,2019.

KateDavidson/OPB

After Russia seized and then annexed Ukraines Crimean Peninsula, Western nations imposed sanctions. Russia responded with a sweeping ban on imports from those countries, including apples. One of the affected countries, Poland, was a huge apple exporter and Russia was its biggest customer. Without access to Russia, European apples have been muscling into other markets where American fruit is alsosold.

The impact has been intense and right now immeasurable, said Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council. European apples that used to be sold in Russia are now being sold throughout the Middle East, in India and Southeast Asia as a result of those sanctions. Were losing market share as aresult.

But the storm was just gettingstarted.

In November 2014, a severe freeze killed 50-60 acres of Avalons fruit trees and damaged many more. Rick Blaine said it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to replant the trees, which would take years to fullyproduce.

Victor Covarrubias holds a basket of Granny Smith apples at Avalon Orchards in Sundale, Wash., Monday, Oct. 7,2019.

KateDavidson/OPB

Add to that a monthslong labor conflict between dockworkers and shippers that bled into 2015 and turned some West Coast ports into parking lots. The labor dispute has slowed imports and exports to a crawl at 29 West Coast ports, CBS news reported at the time. Washington growers export about a third of their apples, but the slowdown backed up the regions entire apple supply chain. It cost producersdearly.

So that was the initialstorm.

In 2015 and 16, we started to recover, Rick Blainesaid.

Then, in 2018, President Trump imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum and the storm turned into a perfect storm. As the presidents trade wars escalated, the Blaines biggest export markets retaliated. No. 1 Mexico, no. 2 India, and no. 6 China all imposed or eventually raised tariffs on American apples. As foreign markets shrunk, those apples stayed in the U.S., depressing priceshere.

Its so unnecessary and its destroying our livelihood, said Sydney Blaine. The tariffs are destroying the markets and theyre destroying them for a long time into thefuture.

Even if countries later drop tariffs, as Mexico did, it takes time to rebuild thosemarkets.

Its sort of like if youre sitting in a backup on the interstate and youre wondering why has the traffic come to a screeching halt? said Jim Bair, president and CEO of the U.S. Apple Association. Well the accident that caused the backup may have been cleared off to the side of the road two hours ago, but it takes a long time to build back up to the same velocity that you were at. And thats true oftrade.

Vilmer Alcantar drives a tractor hauling bins of Granny Smith apples at Avalon Orchards farm in Sundale, Wash., Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. Alcantar is the foreman here and has worked for Avalon Orchards since1983.

KateDavidson/OPB

Over the past decade, the Blaines made business choices that also shaped their financial course. That includes planting some apples that have lost appeal in America, but are prized inAsia.

Much of our efforts, including planting Red Delicious, even though we know it wasnt domestically acceptable, was designed to be exported to India. The people of India and China and Southeast Asia, they really enjoy red fruit. And I think thats terrific, hesaid.

India now has a 70% tariff on U.S.apples.

If you cant sell your fruit thats designed for export, then you have failed, Rick Blainesaid.

The Blaines say they have never missed a loan payment in their lives. Still, according to court documents, Columbia State Bank looked at their losses and declined further funding for this years crop. It also found them in covenant default on a multimillion-dollar loan, basically alleging theyd failed to maintain enough equity in their operations. A lawyer for the bank said he was unable tocomment.

The Blaines say theyve sold a house and one of their five orchards to raise cash. They wrapped up harvest a few days ago. Now they have to wrap up their bankruptcycase.

Six months ago, Avalon Orchards wouldnt have been able to seek the streamlined protections of Chapter 12 bankruptcy. But on Aug. 23, President Trump signed a law expanding the number of family farmers eligible for that relief. The Family Farmer Relief Act more than doubled the amount of debt a farm can have and still qualify for Chapter 12, without being forced into a more onerous proceeding. The debt cap is now $10million.

Richard and Sydney Blaine had been waiting for that signature. Five days later, they filed for Chapter 12 protection for Avalon Orchards. Theoretically, they should be able to reorganize and keep farming, even if operations aresmaller.

Richard Blaine walks through his orchard in Sundale, Wash., Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. A number of financial forces, including tariffs, forced the family to file for Chapter 12 bankruptcyprotection.

KateDavidson/OPB

Daughter Heather Blaine is grateful her parents could still retire just nicely. She said it makes them feel like it wasnt all for naught. Still the rough ride since 2014 has made the 51-year-old general manager worry about her ownfuture.

I have a great life, but Ive always considered the land my 401(k), she said. When you put basically all your money into dirt, it gets a little stressful when times become very, verytenuous.

Those tenuous times, and the changes to Chapter 12, likely mean more family farmers affected by the storm of geopolitics will seek bankruptcy protection as time goeson.

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Roots Of An Oregon Farm Bankruptcy: When Tariffs, Mother Nature And Geopolitics Collide - OPB News

Forever 21 Closes 200 Stores Amid Bankruptcy Proceedings – Forbes

Forever 21 holds a store-closing sale in London on October 16.

Topline: In an effort to emerge from bankruptcy, Forever 21 will close 200 stores, making the move to streamline its business during a tough time for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Big number: Forever 21 has 800 stores worldwide, with 549 in the U.S. That adds up to a total of 12.2 million square feet of leased retail space and an annual occupancy cost of $450 million.

Key background: Forever 21 was founded by husband and wife Do Won and Jin Sook Chang in 1984. By 2015, the company generated $4 billion of revenue and employed 43,000 people. But fast-fashion, a business model based on bringing low-cost, trendy clothing to market quickly, has floundered in 2019. Wet Seal, Delias, Aeropostale, The Limited and Payless ShoeSource also filed for bankruptcy this year. In their place are online retailers like Asos and Lulus, which can make and sell trendy clothing even faster than Forever 21.

Tangent: Ariana Grande filed a $10 million claim in September against Forever 21 for featuring a lookalike model in a social media campaign earlier this year. Grande also alleges Forever 21 used her photos and song lyrics for its Instagram posts without owning the rights to them.

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Forever 21 Closes 200 Stores Amid Bankruptcy Proceedings - Forbes

PG&Es Bankruptcy Has Gotten Trickier and Riskier for Its Stock – Barron’s

Uncertainty surrounding the potential that PG&E equipment helped spark the Kincade Fire, shown here burning in Windsor, Calif., this past week, is clouding the investment case for the utility. Photograph by Eric Thayer/The New York Times/Redux

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Wildfires are tearing across California again, and that has made Wall Street anxious about investing in the states electric utilities. But investors seem to be discounting the doomsday scenario for PG&E.

PG&E (ticker: PCG) filed for bankruptcy protection in January to deal with tens of billions of dollars in costs from a series of wildfires caused by its equipment in 2017 and 2018. In a July cover story, Barrons said that risk-tolerant investors might want to consider wagering on the shares. State regulators and PG&E executives both hadand still havestrong incentive to get the utility out of bankruptcy quickly, and the utility was planning to cut customers power to prevent fires.

A lot has changed since then.

First, wildfire victims got permission to pursue a lawsuit in state court against PG&E. They claim the utility is responsible for damages from the 2017 Tubbs Fire, even though Californias Forestry & Fire Division, known as Cal Fire, determined it wasnt the cause. That trial is scheduled to begin in January. The judge also approved a bondholder groups request to propose its own restructuring plan to compete with PG&Es. That plan would give bondholders including Pimco and activist Elliott Management up to a 95% stake in PG&E and leave current shares essentially worthless.

Then on Oct. 23, a blaze of unclear origin began in PG&Es territory. While the utility had implemented blackouts to prevent its equipment from causing wildfires, its large high-voltage transmission lines were still operating in the area, and it reported a problem with one of those towers near the start of the fire.

PG&E stock fell more than 20% following this news on Monday. The stock rebounded 62% from its nadir, but at Thursdays close of $6.17, its still far below the $18.50 it traded at when we ran our cover story.

The price of PG&Es high-coupon bond maturing in 2034 dropped nearly 14 cents on the dollar early last week after climbing most of the year. The bond recovered 10 cents of that loss by Thursday, when it was trading above par at $1.01 per dollar.

The rebound in PG&Es stock and bonds stems from several factors. First is U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montalis decision to appoint a mediator to act as a go-between for competing groups in the reorganization. Second is the limited damage so far attributed to the Kincade Fire, the Northern California blaze that PG&Es equipment may have caused.

Its also important to note the benefits that PG&E could derive from a state law passed earlier this yearif it exits bankruptcy by a June 2020 deadline. A quick exit would allow the utility to access a wildfire fund that could pay up to 40% of the wildfire claims against PG&E, and would make it easier to pass along wildfire costs to customers.

Still, thanks to a quirk in bankruptcy law that gives priority to 2019 fire costs, bondholders recoveries have been called into question for the first time. Bondholders had previously expected to get paid back in full, though there was some disagreement between them and shareholders over the rate on interest payments accrued during the bankruptcy process.

Thats where the mediator comes in. The mediation process may help break the stalemate between bondholders and shareholders, who have been fighting to control the company once it exits from bankruptcy. The shareholders had signed a preliminary $11 billion settlement agreement with the insurers and hedge funds that own wildfire claims, while the bondholders had won the support of wildfire victims for their latest reorganization plan.

The PG&E trade remains a tough call. Theres still a small chance shareholders could recover some value, but that possibility could disappear once another severe wildfire starts.

Write to Alexandra Scaggs at alexandra.scaggs@barrons.com

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PG&Es Bankruptcy Has Gotten Trickier and Riskier for Its Stock - Barron's

PG&E Stock Is Rallying After Mediator Appointed to Bankruptcy Negotiations – Barron’s

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PG&E stock rallied 21% on Tuesday, even as wildfires continued to burn throughout California. The gains came as the judge overseeing the utilitys bankruptcy appointed an official to mediate negotiations between two groups of investors vying for control of the company.

Judge Dennis Montali of the Northern District of California appointed retired judge Randall Newsome to facilitate negotiations between the bankruptcys competing factions in an order published late Monday.

PG&E has proposed a reorganization plan that would retain some value for the companys shareholders, and reached an $11 billion settlement agreement with investors and insurers who own insurance claims covering wildfire losses. A coalition of bondholders and wildfire victims have proposed an alternate restructuring plan, which would render the current shares more or less worthless.

Montali also ordered the principal parties to make a good-faith effort to mediate whatever issues can be identified with the help of...[an] experienced mediator. His court is based in San Francisco.

Elsewhere in the state, wildfires continued to spread. Northern Californias Kincade Fire was 15% contained on Tuesday morning, according to the states fire agency.

PG&E warned residents that it plans to turn off power to nearly 600,000 customers starting Tuesday in an attempt to prevent wildfires. The utility shut down power to 970,000 customers over the weekend. It filed an incident report last week highlighting an issue with a transmission line near the ignition point of the Kincade Fire, which is still burning.

The fire has grown to 75,415 acres but the reported damage has been relatively light thus far; Cal Fire counts two injuries. The agency says 124 buildings were destroyed and 23 more were damaged, but the Sacramento Bee reports that 90,000 buildings are threatened by the fire. About 180,000 Californians faced evacuation orders over the weekend because of the Kincade Fire.

Even with Tuesdays gains, the stock is still down about 40% over the past two weeks.

Write to Alexandra Scaggs at alexandra.scaggs@barrons.com

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PG&E Stock Is Rallying After Mediator Appointed to Bankruptcy Negotiations - Barron's

CEO of biggest US mall owner says retail industry is ‘reaching the bottom’ of bankruptcies – CNBC

The CEO of the biggest mall owner in the U.S., Simon Property Group, says the retail industry looks to be "reaching the bottom" of a tumultuous wave of bankruptcies.

"We are having a high bankruptcy year. ... There's no denying that," David Simon told analysts during a post-earnings conference call on Wednesday morning. "But I think we're kind of reaching the bottom in ... 2019 on that stuff. It's rivaling what happened in 2017. So, it's not like something that we haven't experienced before. But we know [what] we have to do."

Simon shares were last down about 3.5% Wednesday afternoon, having fallen about 12% this year.

The CEO's comments come on the heels of Forever 21 and Barneys New York, among other retail chains, filing for bankruptcy this year. So far in 2019, U.S. retailers have announced 8,993 store closures and 3,780 store openings, compared with 5,844 closures and 3,258 openings in all of 2018, according to a tracking by Coresight Research. The consulting firm expects closures could still hit a record 12,000 by the end of this year.

"As we put together our plans for next year, I think we'll be OK," Simon said. "We're hustling. We're finding new tenants."

The CEO also on Wednesday highlighted the real estate company's recent investments, including it taking a stake in online shopping site Rue La La's parent company, Rue Gilt Groupe. Rue Gilt Groupe is now helping Simon run a website for its outlet centers, "ShopPremiumOutlets.com," where people can buy from brands such as Saks Off Fifth, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Reebok Outlet and Under Armour. Earlier this week, Simon in a press release listed its latest investments: in gym operator Life Time, dining and entertainment venue Pinstripes, e-gaming company Allied Esports, Sports Illustrated and the trendy membership club Soho House.

"We're going to be a better real estate operator the more we know e-commerce," Simon explained on the conference call. "We are going to make money ... and we're going to know our retailers better." He also said none of Simon's investments have reached the "material" level, where the real estate investment trust would need to disclose more details on those ventures. "Right now we're playing with the house's money and it's not material."

Simon had previously made investments in once-bankrupted Aeropostale, Nautica and Authentic Brands Group, which owns dozens of brands including Nine West and Vince Camuto.

The mall and outlet center owner also has a venture arm, Simon Ventures, which has invested in retail start-ups such as beverage brand Dirty Lemon, Imran Khan's Verishop, underwear maker Me Undies and subscription box company FabFitFun.

"Any leading company out there invests in the future ... from Microsoft to Amazon," Simon said. "If I had a criticism of historical retailers ... because of strained balance sheets or overspending in one thing versus another thing, is the inability to reinvest in your business is a major no-no."

When Simon reported fiscal third-quarter earnings on Wednesday, the company said reported retailer sales per square foot for the period ended Sept. 30 were $680, up 4.5% from a year ago. Total occupancy was 94.7%, down from 95.5% a year ago.

Funds from operations, which is the metric analysts use to gauge real estate investment trusts, were $1.081 billion, or $3.05 per share, compared with $1.086 billion, or $3.05 a share, a year ago. Analysts had been calling for funds from operations of $3.06.

Simon also slashed its full-year funds from operations outlook to between $12 and $12.05 a share, from between $12.30 and $12.40 per share, accounting for losses on the extinguishment of debt.

Simon said comparable funds from operations are now expected to fall between $12.33 and $12.38 per share for the full year, an increase of 3 cents on the lower end of the range the company had provided in July.

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CEO of biggest US mall owner says retail industry is 'reaching the bottom' of bankruptcies - CNBC

The Small Business Reorganization ActComing to a Bankruptcy Court Near You in February 2020 – Lexology

On August 23, 2019, the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (the Act) was signed into law. The Act, which goes into effect in February of 2020, creates a new Subchapter V under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

In the past, few small businesses have been able to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code due to the costs and administrative burdens associated with the process.

The Act is meant to eliminate and/or streamline some of the more costly and burdensome elements of traditional Chapter 11 relief. It should give small businesses greater access to the benefits that Chapter 11 affordsnamely, breathing room to improve financial and operational performance, and the ability to reduce or at least restructure debts.

Some of the key elements of the Act include:

The Act, which will take effect in February of 2020, gives small businesses expanded access to the Bankruptcy Codes reorganization tools.. Small business ownersand the customers, suppliers, and lenders who do business with themshould prepare to exercise their rights and protect their interests under this new subchapter of the Bankruptcy Code. Foster Swift will continue to monitor and share developments related to the Act.

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The Small Business Reorganization ActComing to a Bankruptcy Court Near You in February 2020 - Lexology

Cornellian Caught Up in Forever 21 Bankruptcy Shines Light on Perils of Fast Fashion – Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun

At age 21, Esther Dukhee Chang 08 was studying stitches as a fiber science major in the College of Human Ecology. Now, Esther is better known by fashion professionals as the second daughter of Forever 21 founders, Do Won and Jin Sook Chang. In September, while serving as the famous fast-fashion brands vice president of merchandising, she was part of their declaration of bankruptcy.

Once regarded as the most popular brand among teens and twenty-somethings, Forever 21 at its peak made more than $4 billion in annual sales. This year, the retail titan was forced to file for bankruptcy due to its overcalculation in opening stores in expensive areas, according to The New York Times.

Chang joined her parents company in 2011 as the head of the visual display team and was placed in charge of creating graphics and window displays with the companys trademark bright yellow. In partnership with her older sister Linda, she co-launched Forever 21s beauty and accessories brand Riley Rose in 2017.

In 2015, Changs parents borrowed $5 million from each of their daughters trust funds to keep the company afloat, The Los Angeles Times reported ensnaring them both in bankruptcy proceedings.

FSAD Prof. Van Dyk Lewis referred to Forever 21 as a friend of the Cornell department. Weve done projects with them before, Van Dyk Lewis told The Sun. As part of a class assignment years ago, Cornell students designed two collections for the brand, which later were sold in stores.

According to Grace Anderson 21, an E-board member of Cornell Fashion Industry Network, the department also accepted a donated set of mannequins a few years ago.

Forever 21 is no stranger to controversies according to The Los Angeles Times, The U.S. Department of Labor alleged that the companys factories operate with sweatshop-like conditions. And as one of the original companies that helped shape the fast-fashion industry, Forever 21 has been criticized for its vast water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The perils of fast fashion are a hot topic on-campus in FSAD classrooms, too. Prof. Tasha Lewis and her fellow student researchers focus on the principles of sustainability, and the once multi-billion companys recent announcement of its bankruptcy has sparked the conversation among academic professionals.

[The industry] is a bit problematic, Prof. Mark Milstein, director of Center for the Sustainable Global Enterprise in the SC Johnson College of Business, told The Sun.

I suppose in theory it addresses consumers desire for a different change in clothes, but the impact that it has environmentally and the amount of waste it produces is pretty significant, he continued.

For similar reasons, Forever 21s demise was no surprise to several students who spoke to The Sun.

I wouldnt be surprised if it were due to the decline in the demand for fast and cheap fashion, Mikala Bliahu 22, an environment and sustainability major, said. Brands like Forever 21 are cheap and insolent and dont deserve to be a staple for youth. Fast fashion in all promotes consumerism while keeping a secret as to how the clothing is made.

Eva Milstein-Touesnard 22, a government major and environmental and sustainability minor, says she is not surprised because both the company and the entire fast-fashion industry often fail to be sustainable. Obviously they need materials that are even cheaper than the cheap prices of their products.

According to the Letter to Our Customers on the companys website, filing for bankruptcy protection under chapter 11 allows Forever 21 to continue to operate its stores as usual, while the Company takes positive steps to reorganize the business.Thus, it is still early days to conclude the final fate of Forever 21. Anderson wishes them well and we hope they consider investing further into protecting the environment and their workers, Anderson said.

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Cornellian Caught Up in Forever 21 Bankruptcy Shines Light on Perils of Fast Fashion - Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun

Highland Capital Management Files for Bankruptcy – Wall Street Journal

Highland Capital Management LP, once a giant in high-yield debt markets, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday as investors and former employees seek more than $200 million from the firm for alleged improprieties.

The Dallas-based firm founded by Jim Dondero helped pioneer trading of corporate loans rated below investment-grade and managed about $39 billion in 2007, but it took heavy losses during the financial crisis and has been embroiled in lawsuits ever since. The company had been trying in recent weeks to settle some...

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Highland Capital Management Files for Bankruptcy - Wall Street Journal

Sears’ future is still in doubt a year after bankruptcy filing – CNN

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But will the new tech help or hurt employees?"},{"title":"Old Navy is doing so well it's splitting up with Gap","duration":"01:04","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/03/01/gap-old-navy-split.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"business/2019/03/01/gap-old-navy-split.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190228163026-old-navy-gap-storefronts-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/business/2019/03/01/gap-old-navy-split.cnn/video/playlists/business-retail/","description":"Old Navy is such a hit with millennials that it's spinning off on its own. Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta will become part of a separate company","descriptionText":"Old Navy is such a hit with millennials that it's spinning off on its own. 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Read the original post:

Sears' future is still in doubt a year after bankruptcy filing - CNN

Sears Hasnt Fared Better After Bankruptcy as Another 100 Stores Will Soon Close – The Wall Street Journal

Searss bankruptcy filing was supposed to give the troubled retailer a fresh start. But a year later, the chain is still struggling with many of the same problems it faced before it sought court protection.

Roughly a quarter of the 425 Sears and Kmart stores that financier Edward Lampert bought out of bankruptcy have closed or are closing, according to people familiar with the situation, a retreat the chains havent fully disclosed.

Go here to see the original:

Sears Hasnt Fared Better After Bankruptcy as Another 100 Stores Will Soon Close - The Wall Street Journal

SoftBank reportedly hired restructuring and bankruptcy bankers to help revive WeWork – INSIDER

SoftBank hired that specialize in restructuring in order to save WeWork from bankruptcy.

According to Bloomberg,citing unnamed sources, SoftBank hired Houlihan Lokey, an American investment bank that specializes in bankruptcy, to try and revive the office rental company.

The paper said that Houlihan was assessing different ways for WeWork to cut liabilities, and would be going through its portfolio, one property at a time, and assess which assets were loss-making.

"Houlihan is working on cutting liabilities as WeWork mulls a separate deal that could hand control of the struggling office-sharing company to SoftBank, its biggest shareholder, according to the people," Bloomberg wrote.

Earlier this week, the Guardian reported that the WeWork was cutting 2000 jobs as soon as next week, as the company tries to battle through the crisis it's currently facing.

While by Tuesday evening WeWork's bonds dropped to even further lows, as investors feared that the real estate company wouldn't be able to pay back its own debt.

All of this comes amid reports that WeWork is weighing up a choice of JPMorgan or SoftBank to save the company,

The JPMorgan option would refinance the company to the tune of $5 billion which would include a $2 billion unsecured payment-in-kind, with a hefty 15% coupon, Bloomberg wrote.

While the SoftBank option would mean the Japanese firm effectively taking control of WeWork, as it would invest a $10 billion controlling stake in the firm. SoftBank previously valued WeWork at $47 billion, highlighting its fall from grace since failing to go public.

It has been reported that WeWork is currently favoring the JPMorgan option, despite SoftBank already investing billions in the firm.

Business Insider has reached out to WeWork for comment. SoftBank and Houlihan Lokey declined to comment to Bloomberg.

See the rest here:

SoftBank reportedly hired restructuring and bankruptcy bankers to help revive WeWork - INSIDER

The Coal King is racing to avoid bankruptcy – CNN

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CNN's u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/hadas-gold" target="_blank">Hadas Goldu003c/a> reports."},{"title":"US blacklists 28 Chinese organizations and companies","duration":"00:45","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/10/08/us-blacklists-chinese-organizations-companies-xinjiang-camps-romans-es-sot-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"business/2019/10/08/us-blacklists-chinese-organizations-companies-xinjiang-camps-romans-es-sot-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190605162432-china-us-flags-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/business/2019/10/08/us-blacklists-chinese-organizations-companies-xinjiang-camps-romans-es-sot-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/business-news/","description":"Washington is adding 28 Chinese companies, government offices and security bureaus to a United States blacklist over their alleged role in facilitating human rights abuses in China's Xinjiang region. 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Read more from the original source:

The Coal King is racing to avoid bankruptcy - CNN

Elizabeth Warren wades into debate on health care costs and bankruptcy – PolitiFact

In a back-and-forth about Medicare for All and the cost of health care, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., directed the discussion back to medical debt and bankruptcy citing her own work from Harvard Law School.

"Back when I was studying it, two out of three families that ended up in bankruptcy after a serious medical problem had health insurance," Warren said.

This is a new emphasis in the ongoing debate over health care costs, and the debate over what role health care plays in American finances. Instead of focusing on uninsurance, Warren stepped into whether the insurance people currently have is sufficient.

But much of the research around medical debt and bankruptcy is controversial especially Warrens own work.

We decided to take a deeper look.

What the research says

Warrens campaign directed us to research published in 2009 in the American Journal ofMedicine. Co-authored by Warren, it looks at a random sample of 2,314 bankruptcy filers from 2007.

The paper examined what debtors reported as their cause of bankruptcy. Warren is referring here to people who either cited significant direct medical debt, remortgaging a home to pay medical debt, or lost income due to illness.

In that category, more than two-thirds of families had health insurance in fact, three-quarters did.

So from that simple standpoint, the number checks out.

The controversy

But it isnt necessarily that simple. This specific paper has long been the subject of controversy. In part, its because it focuses on people who have declared bankruptcy, rather than looking at the financial impact of medical debt at large.

Scholars are also quick to note that, in the majority of so-called "medical bankruptcies" identified in the paper, the issue wasnt debts incurred to pay off health care bills. Rather, the bigger problem was foregone income because people couldnt work.

Thats fueled a lengthy back-and-forth, in particular over whether this paper is actually useful in determining what role medical debt plays in fueling bankruptcies.

But its impact on this specific claim isnt so clear. Thats because Warren narrowed her statement, and focused on something less disputable.

For one thing, the paper is clear in finding that two-thirds of families in fact, more than that experienced bankruptcy after a medical problem despite having health insurance.

That finding was "the headline of the study," said Paul Ginsburg, a health economist and professor at the University of Southern California. (Ginsburg also noted the importance of foregone income in driving bankruptcies, rather than medical costs.)

And Warren qualified it further during the debate, by limiting this statistic to what was found "back when [she] was studying it" making it a less sweeping claim.

Whats more suspect is whether this finding even if accurate supports her next point: that the cost of health care is whats driving peoples financial problems, and that a generous single-payer plan would ameliorate this issue.

For instance, "You cannot go from that result to a conclusion that we need Medicare For All," Ginsburg said.

Health insurance is more generous today than it was when Warren studied it, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. And insuring everyone even as generously as Medicare For All suggests wouldnt necessarily address the issue of foregone income when people are sick, which the research suggests is a bigger financial concern.

Our ruling

Warrens claim comes from a paper that is controversial, and whose methods and interpretation have been called into question. That said, this statistic is fairly specific, and her wording in the claim precise. In itself, its a fair reflection of what the paper says.

Where caution is more important: Warren says this finding suggests the cost of health care is whats causing Americans financial harm. That isnt necessarily borne out, and requires more scrutiny.

This statement is accurate but would benefit from more information. We rate it Mostly True.

Link:

Elizabeth Warren wades into debate on health care costs and bankruptcy - PolitiFact

Fusion Connect Plans to Emerge from Bankruptcy with All of its Partners – Channel Partners

Fusion Connect, which filed chapter 11 bankruptcy this summer, wants to continue doing business with all of its partners and has offered them new agreements.

The company plans to emerge from chapter 11 before the end of the year. Kevin Brand, most recently Fusions senior vice president of customer experience, has been named interim CEO, succeeding Matthew Rosen, who has resigned from the position.

Fusion filed chapter 11 after its acquisitions of MegaPath and Birch Communications cloud and business-services business failed to meet performance projections. Its lenders will own the business when it emerges from bankruptcy.

Michael Fair, Fusions senior vice president of channels and alliances, tells Channel Partners a top priority in developing the companys plans for emerging from chapter 11 has been to conduct a comprehensive review of its channel program with a clear focus on making it easier and more profitable to do business with us.

Fusion Connects Michael Fair

Were excited to announce that were planning to launch our new program in early January following our expected emergence before the end of the year, he said. To prepare for that launch and initiate the first of many planned advances in our program, weve offered all of our partners the opportunity to enter into a single agreement that consolidates the various agreements many partners had in place following the integration of our three legacy companies Fusion, Birch and MegaPath. Were confident that this will make it far easier to work with us by standardizing terms, commissions and commitments for new sales, as well as to provide consistent support across all services and regions. The new agreements will help lead to even stronger, more enduring and successful relationships with our loyal partners.

Master agent contracts will be slightly different to reflect their size and scope, Fair said.

Fusion Connects Kevin Brand

We are consolidating the multiple contracts partners currently have, standardizing payment dates, and providing the opportunity for increased commissions that incent sales of our strategic products, including UCaaS, SD-WAN and security, he said. Other basic terms and conditions will not change. Additionally, were offering new agreements to a number of partners representing less than 5% of our commissionable revenue, who have been inactive with us or who have produced very little new business over a long period. Were asking them to re-engage with us by selling a minimal amount of recurring new revenue. This will allow them to continue receiving commission payments and remain as direct partners in our new program. Those partners who fall in this category and are active with master agents will also be able to roll their bases to the master of their choice on a case-by-case basis.

Fusions goal is to have all new amendments and agreements signed by the end of October, Fair said.

Were also are implementing very reasonable objectives for incremental sales and customer retention consistent with industry best practices for channel management, he said.

Brand tells Channel Partners all of us at Fusion are looking forward to 2020 to pursue our strategic vision to find even more ways to build and grow with our partners, who are so critical to our continued success.

The actions weve taken throughout this process will provide

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Originally posted here:

Fusion Connect Plans to Emerge from Bankruptcy with All of its Partners - Channel Partners


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