King of Prussia will grow, says new mall owner

Simon Property Group of Indianapolis has outbid a Morgan Stanley fund to take full control of the giant King of Prussia shopping centers from ailing Australian investors Lend Lease Group, Simon chief financial officer Stephen E. Sterrett told investors. Lend Lease had identified Morgan Stanley as the likely buyer in May, but added that co-owner Simon Property would also be able to bid. 

"King of Prussia Mall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it's a mall that we've had (a minority) ownership interest in since 2003, but we recently grew our ownership interest," and for the first time "we are now in a position to control the day-to-day activities and management and leasing of this center," Sterrett told investors at a Barclays Capital conference yesterday.

"It's one of the top 10 malls in the United States, and it's one that we are really excited about, because we think there is significant upside potential in our ability to grow the income stream in what already is one of the iconic malls in the United States."

Sterrett wasn't specific about how he plans to boost sales at the upscale complex, with its nine department stores and hundreds of boutiques, amid a howling economic slump, as more shoppers move online.