J.C. Penney Receives $248 Million for 2 Million Units of Simon Subsidiary
07/23/2012| 01:19pm US/Eastern
--Stock is up 1.4% in down market
--Long-held investment a convenient target for cash
--J.C. Penney will hold 205,000 units in Simon unit after deal
By A.D. Pruitt and Tess Stynes
In a drive to raise cash, J.C. Penney Co. (>> J.C. Penney Company, Inc.) has picked off some low-hanging fruit by selling a long-held investment in shopping-mall landlord Simon Property Group Inc. (>> Simon Property Group, Inc) for $248 million.
The retailer disclosed Monday that Simon Property, the nation's largest shopping-mall owner, redeemed 2 million units representing limited-partner interests in a Simon subsidiary for $248 million.
Analysts said J.C. Penney received the units, which can be converted into stock, from Simon Property more than 20 years ago as part of joint-venture investments the companies made in several malls.
The deal came as J.C. Penney is in the midst of a vast transformation effort led by Chief Executive Ron Johnson to make it more competitive with rivals such as Macy's Inc. (M) and Kohl's Corp. (>> Kohl's Corporation).
J.C. Penney Chief Financial Officer Ken Hannah said Monday that the retailer last year determined it was necessary to review and, where appropriate, monetize assets that aren't core to its operations. He added that Monday's move represents the first step toward executing this plan.
"They're monetizing assets just when cash flows look like they're going to get cut," said Paul Swinand, an analyst at Morningstar Inc.
J.C. Penney shares were recently up 1.4% at $20.91.
In May, J.C. Penney reported that it swung to a $163 million loss in the first quarter. That led the chain to eliminate its dividend and raised questions about Mr. Johnson's strategy of cutting discounts in favor of offering generally lower prices at all times.
The company is set to release its second-quarter financial report Aug. 10.
After the transaction is complete, J.C. Penney's real-estate unit will hold about 205,000 limited partnership units in the mall-focused real-estate investment trust's operating partnership.
According to a regulatory filing in March, J.C. Penney said it owned shares in two other retail REITs: 1.895 million shares in CBL & Associates Properties Inc. (>> CBL & Associates Properties, Inc.) and 89,063 shares in Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust(>> Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust).
Write to A.D. Pruitt at firstname.lastname@example.org and Tess Stynes at email@example.com.
Order free Annual Report for Simon Property Group, Inc.
Visit http://djnewswires.ar.wilink.com/?link=SPG or call 1-888-301-0513
Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires