Bill Ackman is betting big on real estate group General Growth Properties Inc (NYSE:GGP). The Pershing Square Capital Management founder, presented his ideas on the future of the company to a crowd gathered at the 8th Value Investing Congress yesterday.
Ackman’s hope for the recently bankrupted real estate investment group, centered on his hopes that a successful bid would be made for the firm by Simon Property Group, Inc (NYSE:SPG). General Growth Properties Inc (NYSE:GGP) went bankrupt in April of 2009. It was the largest bankruptcy of a retail group since 1980.
Since emerging from bankruptcy in the closing months of 2010, the company has performed well. Bill Ackman first made statements on the benefit of a merger with Simon Property Group, Inc (NYSE:SPG) on August 23rd.
According to the hedge fund maven, four offers have been made by Simon Property Group, Inc (NYSE:SPG) to acquire General Growth Properties Inc (NYSE:GGP). Those offers have, so far, fallen on deaf ears.
The major obstacle to a merger, according to Ackman, is the creeping control that Brookfield Asset Management Inc.(NYSE:BAM) (TSE:BAM.A) is exerting over the company. If Brookfield manages to increase its share of the company to 45% or above it would hold de facto control of GGP.
Brookfield is looking to spin off a commercial real estate vehicle called Brookfield Property Partners. That firm would have access to preferential deals with GGP if Brookfield gets their way. That would harm the prospects of other shareholders, in Ackman’s view.
A sale to Simon Property Group, Inc (NYSE:SPG) is Ackman’s solution, and that single idea took up his entire presentation to yesterday’s congress. The company’s board, whom Ackman suggests should form an independent committee to study the possible deal, is torn between two paths, each championed by one of its most powerful investors.
Ackman’s entire presentation to the Value Investing Congress is below. General Growth Properties Inc (NYSE:GGP) is certainly a stock to consider for any who have followed Ackman’s illustrious career thus far. The challenges presented by Brookfield make it a more risky bet however.