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Macerich execs see little threat in possible Forever 21 restructuring

Macerich Co.'s leadership said a Forever 21 Inc. reorganization that involved store closures or concessions is unlikely to materially impact the real estate investment trust's operations.

On a second-quarter earnings call, Macerich CEO Tom O'Hern said the company has had "multiple discussions" with the fast-fashion retailer, which is exploring restructuring options to help revive its ailing business. Forever 21 is among Macerich's top tenants, accounting for 2.50% of the REIT's rental revenue, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

"At this point, we don't believe that any concessions that we're going to be making will be material," O'Hern said. "And we've got 30 stores for them, and it's possible that a few might close, but it won't be significant to our overall rent and our guidance for 2019. Those discussions are underway. It's a little early to conclude anything yet. But based on what we've heard from them, we don't think it's going to be material."

Year-to-date, Macerich has dealt with 13 tenant bankruptcies comprising about 512,000 square feet across its centers, and the company's temporary tenant occupancy retailers that fill vacated space for shorter-than-typical time periods has risen to 6.5%, a level that is "elevated relative to historical expectations," CFO and Treasurer Scott Kingsmore said on the call.

Kingsmore expects temp tenant occupancy to tick up another 10 to 20 basis points or so through the end of the year as Macerich backfills vacated space.

"We do view that as a great opportunity going forward to convert short-term uses into longer-term, higher rent paying tenants at full market rents," Kingsmore said. "We should see significantly elevated rents. And I think that will be an important and critical operating cash flow tailwind for us over the next couple of years."