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Simon Property to Spin Off Smaller Malls into REIT

Simon Property Group Inc, the largest owner of U.S. malls and outlet centers, will spin off its strip malls and smaller shopping centers into a publicly traded REIT to focus on its larger retail properties.Simon Property said the spin-off, through a distribution to shareholders, would boost its sales per square foot, net operating income and occupancy rates.The company's shares rose 2.4 percent before the bell.The new company is expected to initially own or have an interest in 54 strip malls as well as in 44 smaller enclosed malls with annual net operating income of up to $10 million each.The new company's funds from operations are expected to be about $300 million, or 80 cents per share, in the first year, Simon Property said.Real estate investment trusts (REITs), which must pay out at least 90 percent of their taxable income to shareholders as dividends, are subject to lower taxes and pay higher dividends than other companies.Simon Property said the REIT's dividend was estimated to b...

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