By  on August 2, 2011

General Growth Properties Inc. plans to spin off a portfolio of 30 malls encompassing 21.1 million square feet to its stockholders.

The deal, approved by the real estate firm’s board late Monday, is structured as a taxable special dividend, which is expected to be distributed in the fourth quarter and will include common stock in the new real estate investment trust, Rouse Properties Inc. At 1.3 million square feet, the Southland Mall in Hayward, Calif., is set to be Rouse’s largest property.

The still-pending spin-off is just the latest effort by General Growth to slim down its portfolio. During the second quarter, the company swapped one-third ownership of two centers in the Phoenix market for six big-box anchor locations and $75 million in cash and sold a center in Bountiful, Utah, for $22.5 million.

General Growth faltered during the financial crisis and filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2009, emerging as two companies in November, General Growth and The Howard Hughes Corp.

The Rouse portfolio is 87.7 percent leased and, according to General Growth, “offers significant opportunities to enhance value through the execution of rigorous asset management strategies, including redevelopment.”

The malls set to be spun off have lagged General Growth’s other properties, at least in terms of leasing.

As of the end of the second quarter on June 30, the firm’s regional malls were 92.5 percent leased. Comparable tenant sales rose 8.4 percent during the past 12 months to $465 a square foot.

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