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Simon Property Group Hits Gap With Lawsuit To Recoup Back Rent

Simon Property Group Hits Gap With Lawsuit

All eyes in the retail sector are now on Simon Property Group, as the mall giant hauls The Gap into court for failing to pay rent amid the coronavirus shutdown.

In the first major retail rent showdown of the pandemic, Simon has filed a complaint in state court in Delaware seeking $66 million in back rent owed by The Gap, which also owns Banana Republic and Old Navy.

The lawsuit, first reported by The Real Deal, comes after David Simon, CEO of the company, which owns malls in 37 states, fired off a warning last month to retail tenants who might be considering skipping their rent payments.

“The bottom line is, we do have a contract and we do expect to get paid,” Simon said during the May 12 earnings call with analysts.

However, The Gap, like many other retailers, has seen its revenue fall off a cliff since March, when the clothing retailer was forced to shutter stores across the country.

In April, The Gap said it would be suspending $115 million in monthly lease payments on stores in malls and other locations across North America. The retailer also said at the time that it was in talks to renegotiate or terminate leases and to close stores entirely if necessary.

The announcement came as The Gap cut staff, furloughed workers, slashed expenses and put $300 million in capital improvements on ice.

The retailer, which has 412 stores in Simon malls, saw its stock price drop initially after news of the lawsuit broke, but later edged up 1.09 percent to $12.08 a share on mid-day Thursday (June 4).

Shares of The Gap were buoyed earlier in the week by the results of a survey by S&P Global Market Intelligence, which found that 44 percent of consumers plan to get out and shop at retail stores once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Simon’s stock price, however, fared the better of the two on Thursday, rising 3.88 percent to $75.71 a share.

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