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Simon, Brookfield Agree To Buy Forever 21 Out Of Bankruptcy

The two largest mall owners in the U.S. are teaming up to try and rescue Forever 21 out of bankruptcy.

Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners have joined with Authentic Brands Group in a deal to bid $81M for Forever 21 in a court-supervised bankruptcy auction.

Forever 21

As a stalking horse bid, the deal sets a minimum price for the beleaguered Forever 21, The Wall Street Journal reports. It is still possible that another bidder will offer more during the auction, though as part of the agreement, a higher bidder would also have to pay Forever 21 a breakup fee of $4.6M.

Los Angeles-based Forever 21, which had been a major player in the fast-fashion sector in recent years, filed for Chapter 11 in September. At the time, the company said it planned to close as many as 350 stores globally, with about half of those in the U.S.

At the time of its bankruptcy, Forever 21 operated about 800 stores worldwide, with 500 of them in the U.S. The average Forever 21 store footprint totals 38K SF and the largest store is 162K SF.

Simon is landlord to 99 Forever 21 stores, representing about 1.4% of the REIT's rental income, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. As for Brookfield, which bought mall giant GGP in 2018, Forever 21 leases represent about 2% of its retail rent income. 

Other landlords with significant exposure to Forever 21 leases include Macerich Co., PREIT and CBL & Associates Properties.

"Forever 21's downfall was a failure to remain competitive in an industry where newness, brand and ease of purchase is everything," Sarah Keeble, the head of social media for UK retail social media consultant Verb, told Bisnow in an email.

Ultimately Forever 21 failed to modernize its digital presence and supply chain, Keeble said. 

"It's also no secret that they have huge competition in the fast-fashion space," Keeble said. "Just look at the likes of Zara, Pretty Little Thing and Never Fully Dressed, which are dropping collections just as frequently."