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NEW YORK — Simon Property Group Wednesday added a partner, an ultimatum and $2 a share to its fight to gain control of Taubman Centers Inc.

This story first appeared in the January 16, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

After battling on its own for two months, Simon joined with Westfield America in a $20-a-share revised bid for Taubman, upping its valuation to $1.7 billion from the earlier $1.5 billion. The revised offer represents a 50 percent premium to Taubman’s price when Simon first made its written acquisition proposal at $17.50 a share on Nov. 13 and a 25 percent premium to Tuesday’s closing price.

In revising the all-cash offer, Simon and Westfield, 50-50 partners in the bid for Taubman, said they will withdraw their offer unless two-thirds of Taubman’s outstanding stock, or 35 million shares, are tendered by midnight on Feb. 14.

Taubman, in a statement, advised stockholders to defer making a decision about the joint offer. It said it will advise stockholders of its position regarding the offer in 10 days.

Simon, the nation’s largest mall developer, owns or has an interest in 249 properties. Taubman owns or manages 30 upscale properties.

Simon launched an $18-a-share tender offer directly to shareholders after its initial offer was rebuffed by Taubman’s board.

Taubman said earlier this week that it was working with Gordon Group Holdings in a deal over the Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas, now controlled by its archrival.