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Mall owner given more time to avoid bankruptcy

BOARDMAN — Senior noteholders and some creditors of Washington Prime Group Inc., owner / operator of the Southern Park Mall, have given the financially strapped company more time to try to avoid bankruptcy.

According to a filing Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Columbus-based company was given a two-week extension on forbearance agreements officials reached earlier this month.

The agreements are now extended to 11:59 p.m. April 14.

During the period, the retail real estate investment trust that has more than 100 shopping centers across the U.S. continues to engage the noteholders and lenders to restructure its capital structure, according to the filing.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported Guggenheim Securities LLC, a global investment firm Washington Prime enlisted to help it in the financial talks, has discussed with prospective lenders a possible $150 million debtor-in-possession loan.

The agreements were announced March 16 in Washington Prime’s fourth quarter and full-year 2020 financial results. That was one day before the expiration of a 30-day grace period the company had to make a $23.2 million loan payment after skipping it in February.

The report also included other sobering details of the company’s financial health. Washington Prime finished the last three months of 2020 with a net loss of $111.4 million, and company management noted in the report of hefty doubt regarding the company’s “ability to continue as a going concern …”

Some of the discussions thus far have included reorganization through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the report states.

Throughout the course of the recent financial struggles, the company has stated it expects business at its shopping centers, including Southern Park Mall, to continue as usual.

It later confirmed in a news release it remains committed to a more than $30 million investment at Southern Park Mall over the next several years. Already, about $9 million has been spent, according to the company.

Those investments include storm water infrastructure, a hike and bike path across the mall property, green space called DeBartolo Commons, a connection from DeBartolo Commons to Boardman Park, a retail and entertainment hub, and expansions in real estate property, sales and income tax bases.

Washington Prime stock closed trading Monday at $2.18 per share, up 4.31 percent. Its stock fell 60 percent to $2.51 per share after a March 4 report from Bloomberg that the company was considering bankruptcy.

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