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Simon Property in $2.3 billion deal to buy Prime Outlets

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New York City Simon Property Group, the largest U.S. shopping mall owner, made its biggest purchase in five years with an agreement to buy Prime Outlets Acquisition Co. from Lightstone Group for $2.33 billion including debt.

The deal gives Indianapolis-based Simon Property an additional 22 retail outlet centers, increasing its total to more than 60. It will pay $700 million for closely held Prime Outlets, 80% in cash and 20% in common operating partnership units, Simon Property said in a statement.

"It's a good deal," said Alexander Goldfarb, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, who has a 'buy' rating on Simon Property shares, in a Bloomberg report. "Simon’s done a good job with Chelsea, and this makes sense. It just fits well within the outlet portfolio."

Simon Property acquired Chelsea Property Group in 2004 for $3.5 billion in cash and stock, giving it retail outlets including Woodbury Common, near New York City. As of Sept. 30, Simon Property owned 325 properties in the United States, including 41 outlet centers.

Prime Outlets, based in Baltimore, owns outlets in metropolitan areas including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, San Antonio and Orlando. The centers were 92% occupied as of June 30 and generated sales of about $370 per square foot, according to Bloomberg. Almost all of Prime Outlets is owned by Lightstone Group, New York, a closely held real estate investor founded by David Lichtenstein, and Lightstone Value Plus Real Estate Investment Trust.

"Prime Outlets is an excellent opportunity for Simon as it represents a strong strategic fit for our existing premium outlet portfolio and enhances our leadership position in the outlet business," chairman and chief executive David Simon said in a statement. "Following the completion of this transaction our outlet portfolio will have 63 centers comprising approximately 25 million sq. ft."

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