PREIT, owner of the Fashion District and Cherry Hill malls, reported a net loss of $29.6 million during the three months that ended Sept. 30, as it seeks bankruptcy court approval for a deal that it hopes will help it weather the current tough economic times for mall landlords.
The figure, a stark contrast to a net gain of $24.7 million during the same quarter a year ago, was driven primarily by tenant bankruptcies and other store closures, rent breaks for tenants, and drops in the company’s share of tenant revenue during government-imposed closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, PREIT said in an earnings report Friday.
Total revenue was $64.2 million, a 24% drop from the same quarter a year ago.
The release caps a week that began with Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, as PREIT is formally known, filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition to pursue what it described as a prepackaged restructuring plan supported by most of its creditors.
“We are pleased to be moving closer to a normal state in our business while moving forward with strengthening the company’s balance sheet and positioning it for long-term success," PREIT chief executive Joseph F. Coradino said in the release. “Our court-approved expedited case timeline should allow us to emerge and quickly move to the next phase of our evolution.”
PREIT is the biggest mall owner in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties, with 4.7 million square feet of space under management in the region, according to market tracker CoStar Group.
Its 21 malls in nine states include the Fashion District in Center City, formerly the Gallery at Market East; Willow Grove Park and the Plymouth Meeting Mall in Montgomery County; and the Cherry Hill Mall, Moorestown Mall, and Cumberland Mall in South Jersey.
In August, PREIT handed the keys to one of its malls — the Valley View Mall in La Crosse, Wis. — over to a “special servicer,” a type of distressed debt specialist, as part of a long-running campaign to unload its non-core properties, it said Friday.
Special servicers take over properties when their owners stop paying loans on them, with the objective of getting lenders back as much value from the asset as possible, usually through their eventual sale.
PREIT and other mall landlords had been fighting an uphill battle for retail-market share with e-commerce sites such as Amazon when the coronavirus hit, devastating their already suffering businesses. All PREIT’s properties were ordered closed in March to help stem the coronavirus and did not finish reopening until July.
The company has said that its filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware will not cause any interruptions to its operations. On Tuesday, Judge Karen B. Owens approved a hearing schedule that could result in a resolution as soon as Nov. 24.
PREIT is seeking approval for a plan would put up properties that it owns free and clear as collateral for its $919 million in existing unsecured debt and the $150 million in new borrowing. That would mean PREIT’s lenders could foreclose on those properties if it defaulted.
PREIT’s finance chief, Mario C. Ventresca Jr., said in a court filing this week that 95% of its creditors support the plan, but that opposition is coming from lone holdout Strategic Value Partners, which “purchased a 5% interest in the debt only weeks ago at a significant discount.”
SVP, which specializes in distressed debt investments, is said to be pushing for a resolution that would grant PREIT’s creditors equity stakes in the company in exchange for their debt positions, an outcome that would dilute the value of the mall owner’s already depressed pool of shares.
SVP has subpoenaed PREIT’s main creditor, Wells Fargo Bank N.A., for detailed information about its lending to the company and has filed papers seeking to depose PREIT executives and others.
An SVP spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
A drawn out battle to determine the terms of PREIT’s restructuring could keep it tied up in bankruptcy court, an unwanted distraction during the usually lucrative Christmas season.
But with the vast majority of lenders supporting PREIT’s own proposal, the odds seem stacked against SVP being able to push its plan through, said attorney Stephen Selbst, who specializes in restructuring and finance law at Herrick, Feinstein LLP in New York.
PREIT shares ended Friday at $0.36 in New York, down 10% from its $0.40 close on Thursday.