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Real Estate Trusts Excel, New Plan Agree to Merge

May 15, 1998|MELINDA FULMER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

San Diego-based Excel Realty Trust has agreed to merge with New York retail giant New Plan Realty Trust to create the country's largest strip shopping center real estate investment trust.

The $1.36-billion deal is the latest in a wave of consolidation sweeping the REIT industry, as companies seek to trim costs and gain other competitive advantages. The marriage gives fast-growing Excel access to cheaper capital, via New Plan's sterling credit rating, analysts say.

And venerable New Plan, which is headed by 71-year-old William Newman, will get a clear succession strategy and infusion of deals via Excel's aggressive 44-year-old chief Gary Sabin.

The combined company, called New Plan Excel Realty, will be based in New York, although operations will be run from San Diego. Newman will remain chairman, New Plan President Arnold Laubich will become chief executive officer, and Sabin will assume the role of president and chief investment officer.

The two companies own mostly small, unremarkable shopping centers, anchored by grocery or drug stores, and so-called power centers that house large warehouse retailers.

New Plan's properties are mainly east of the Mississippi River, except for a factory outlet center it owns in Barstow. Excel's portfolio is concentrated in the West and Southeast. Once the merger is complete, the combined company will have 276 retail properties in 32 states, according to New Plan officials.

Excel shares fell 25 cents to close at $28.25, and New Plan shares fell $1 to $24.13. Both trade on the New York Stock Exchange. The deal is expected to close this summer.

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