June 13 (Reuters) - Mall owner Washington Prime Group
filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sunday
after the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to temporarily close some
of its roughly 100 shopping centers across the United States and
businesses were unable to pay it rent.
The company's estimated assets ranged from $1 billion to $10
billion as did its estimated liabilities, according to a filing
made in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern
District of Texas.
Reuters was the first to report that the Columbus,
Ohio-based company, formed in 2014 following a spin-off from
mall giant Simon Property Group Inc, was preparing to
seek bankruptcy protection.
The company was in talks for roughly $100 million of
so-called debtor-in-possession financing to aid operations
during bankruptcy proceedings, Reuters reported earlier on
Fallout from the pandemic last year forced Washington Prime
to close some properties for a time and relax collection of rent
from its tenants, squeezing the mall owner's finances.
During the throes of the pandemic in 2020, Washington
Prime's rental income plummeted about $127 million from 2019
levels due to the coronavirus outbreak.
During the first three months of this year, Washington
Prime's rental income was off roughly $20 million compared with
the same time in 2020. Its cash flows from operations for the
three months ending in March were $3.3 million, a plunge from
$10 million during the same time in 2020.
The U.S. economy is now sharply rebounding with more than
140 million Americans fully vaccinated and businesses reopening.
Nevertheless, previous government stay-at-home orders and
business closures designed to slow the pandemic crushed many
retailers' bottom lines, imperiling their ability to pay rent to
landlords such as Washington Prime.
Other mall owners such as CBL & Associates Properties Inc
and Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust
filed for bankruptcy last year.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen