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Debt-ridden supermarket chain Daiei Inc. has finished negotiations to sell the upscale Ala Moana Center mall in Hawaii to major U.S. shopping mall operator General Growth Properties Limited Partnership, company officials said Tuesday.

The $810 million deal was struck Monday in New York, company officials said in a written statement.

The negotiations also involved Daiei President Tadasu Toba, who is in New York apparently to oversee the details of transferring the shopping center — one of the largest of its kind in the United States — the officials said.

The mall comprises about 240 stores, including Neiman Marcus, and is likely to continue operations under the auspices of General Growth, Daiei sources said. The mall generates annual sales of about 100 billion yen.

Analysts say the sale of the mall marks a major step in Daiei’s restructuring efforts.

Daiei wanted to sell the mall, which it acquired in 1982, as part of a streamlining plan designed to sell of 480 billion yen worth of its operations by the end of February 2002. The supermarket chain is now laden with more than 2 trillion yen in debt.

Industry watchers, however, note that Daiei is struggling to find buyers for operations worth some 200 billion yen, and that the restructuring plan may force Daiei to give up a prize stake in Recruit Co., a publisher of employment information. Daiei has denied it will sell off its Recruit stake.

General Growth Properties Limited Partnership is a Chicago-based shopping mall firm that operates some 120 malls in the U.S. General Growth’s total revenues were $427 million in the business year ended Dec. 31.

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